I’ve played soccer ever since I can remember. I started playing with my dad and older brother in the backyard. When I was 8 years old I started playing with Maccabi. Regular trainings and weekly matches have been a fixture of my life. This year, in year 12, I’m still playing there. I also plan to go to Israel for the Maccabiah games in July. This means I’ll miss 3 weeks of school to play. I’ll be playing against girls from countries all over the world.
Soccer is a big part of my life. My team trains twice a week and we have games every Sunday.
Balancing year 12 with soccer is tough. But I’ve found that it’s so important.
I’ve met so many people through soccer. I developed strong friendships that I otherwise wouldn’t have. Maintaining sport through school allows me to keep in touch with my friends and reminds me that something exists beyond school. It means I see people aside from my school friends regularly. I can get out of the ‘school school school’ mindset.
School can get stressful. Spending hours studying for sacs can be really intense. Having a run around at the park for a couple of hours is a way to remove myself from my room. It enables me to focus on something completely different. It’s a great outlet for pent up energy and stress. If I’m upset or stressed about a sac, I can go run it off at soccer and distract myself.
From a health perspective it’s so important to exercise regularly, especially in year 12. According to the Mayo Clinic regular exercise ‘boosts HDL cholesterol (the ‘good cholesterol’) and prevents or lowers the risk of stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and arthritis – just to name a few. I’m no doctor but these benefits just make continuing sport more appealing. Keeping up soccer also helps maintain fitness levels so that when year 12 is done, I can still keep up with my team.
Playing sport releases endorphins which trigger a positive feeling in the body that can be described as ‘euphoric’ and is known as ‘runners high’. So, playing soccer or any extracurricular sports can actually make you happier. Sometimes I come home from soccer on my own kind of ‘soccer high’ and I’m more motivated and productive as a result.
From a school perspective, knowing I have soccer later in the night actually makes me work harder. I have less time to get my work done so I can’t waste time and procrastinate. I have to get off my phone and head upstairs to get stuck into work because before I know it, I’ll need to start getting ready for soccer. It’s the same story for when I come back from soccer: I shower quickly and then smash work out knowing that I’ve lost a lot of time so need to work effectively to stay on track.
I know I’ve just explained loads of reasons why you should continue with sport during the intense school years. BUT – and this is a big but – it’s also important to recognise that there will be times where you have to place more emphasis on school. I’ve already missed a few trainings here and there when I have a sac the day after or have a lot on with school, and that’s okay. Ultimately, year 12 is the biggest year schoolwork-wise that you’ll have experienced. I recommend speaking to your coach about your position. Tell your coach that you’re still invested in soccer. However, this year your priorities are a bit different. My coach has been really understanding and overall great about it.
I love soccer and I’m finding that it’s so important to balance school with sport.