How sport taught me to deal with adversity

by James Craigen, LAPS Partnership Manager for Scotland


Hi! I’m James Craigen and this is my very first LAPS blog.

In fact, this is my very first time writing a blog at all, so wish me luck! It might be a little on the short side…

The news this past couple of weeks has all been doom and gloom with a second wave of Covid upon us. Economic turmoil and job losses after furlough, not to mention the possible delay to football with fans due to be absent from the game in the English and Scottish leagues for the foreseeable future. There are knock-on effects across the world of sport and there’s a lot of uncertainty around. We really do find ourselves living in a new world.

For those of us transitioning from full-time professional sport to new careers I ask,

‘Could we not have chosen a better time?’

But the one thing that football has shown me is that resilience always pays off.

A couple of seasons ago up in Scotland, I felt like I’d had a good year on the field and was out of contract. I was our player of the year and wanted to stay, but was offered a deal on reduced terms. I felt like I believed in what I had to offer on the pitch and decided not to take their offer and test the market.

I then found that the phone wouldn’t ring.

Being out of contract was not a comfortable position but undeterred, I accepted opportunities to go and trial. If I wanted to continue playing, I’d have to go and create my own opportunity. I’d done well the year before, playing out of position regularly, sacrificing for the team and I felt like I warranted a go somewhere.

I went to trial at Yeovil, did well enough to discuss a contract and then I trialled at AFC Fylde. This time, there was some synergy and I got offered a contract before the end of my trial week. It felt like a good fit for me personally, being closer to my family in the north west and giving me the chance to play regularly. Holding out for something else gave me a really favourable situation to build upon.

The experience of being without contract taught me loads about myself. I learned to value and believe in what I could offer a team, being confident in my ability and to say no to things that weren’t the right fit. By putting myself out there by going on trial, I proved to myself that I was happy to change my own circumstances and that I was happy to take some risks and be adventurous.

Most of all, I learned that I was happy to deal with uncertainty and that I’d back my self to make the most of both my personal qualities and an unforeseen situation.

If we can put our heads down and dig in for the next 6-12 months we can come out stronger than before. What you’ll learn about yourself during this time can be incredibly valuable going forward. After all we athletes are the lucky ones. No matter what level of success we have tasted we have lived out our childhood dreams of turning professional in our chosen sport. Years of dedication, come wind, rain and shine, we’ve worked hard, lived those dreams and that will never be taken away.

I look back to when I was a football-daft seven year old, eagerly putting on my Sunderland kit ready to walk out as the mascot at The Stadium of Light in the game against Ipswich in 1998. Who would ever have believed I would have been playing for Partick Thistle at Celtic Park on New Year’s Day 2015. We can all re-trace our steps and relive those very special moments in our sporting journeys. We also hold in high esteem those special people who encouraged us, maybe took a chance with us, trained with us and nurtured us. Yes, there have been the ups and downs too. In a football career, loyalty can fluctuate as ‘you are only as good as the last match you played’ but experiencing adversity will teach you something priceless.

Our sports have given us life skills that we can now take forward into the real world where we can make a difference, experience success in the future and potentially help others. The best advice I was ever given was ‘always be true to yourself’ and believe it or not if you follow it you will not go far wrong.

James is currently looking for applicants for a Technical Recruiter role. To discuss this role or if you want to get hold of James to discuss other potential partnerships with us here at LAPS, his details are:


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