Written by Dr Mickey Mehta
Back in school, we saw champions playing football, having mastery over their feet, dribbling the ball with their left and right legs, controlling it, flipping it, kicking it, and of course trapping it under their feet. Then stopping it, moving it from under the feet of the opposition and passing meticulously from one side to the other, beating the people who want to stop, stumble and flip them over. And we have seen goalkeepers flying in the air, stopping the ball.
Football is a sport that requires extreme fitness, resilience, toughness and tenacity. And players need a lot of training, especially in strength, stamina, agility and endurance. But all of us do not need to be as competitive and look at it as a game. That’s why playing football on the weekends is being promoted recently by many playgrounds, terraces on buildings and indoor football stadiums, covered with nets and floodlights. Be it evening, post working hours, Saturday and Sunday mornings or evenings, football is gaining momentum.
Weekend football is looked forward to by people because it is fun and recreational and of course, it challenges your body limits. So, it’s super fitness as well.
All-round body benefits
Football is an impact sport, which, if played frequently, can measure up to hours of exercise and be equivalent to activities like swimming or cycling. One needs to train well for football if one ought to be good at it. One needs to take medical advice if you are experiencing any pain or injury while playing football.
It is a 90-minute exercise that helps one improve cardiovascular fitness. It improves endurance, agility, focus, coordination, concentration, and most important, reflexes, responses and presence of mind. The combination of running, walking, sprinting and kicking can bring benefits like increased stamina, reduced body fat, improved muscle strength and increased bone strength and tone. It improves neuro-muscular coordination. And it improves one’s eyesight too.
It counts towards your recommended amount of aerobic activity and is good for people with heart problems and Type 2 diabetes. Football helps you remain calm under pressure and to focus during chaotic situations.
It truly can bring spirit and cheer back to a sportsman’s life because the game is fun and joyful and I am certain, it’s a stress buster too.
How it helps in mental wellness
Beating your emotional and psychological stress, football brings you out of the low and takes you to the high.
According to yoga, there are four pillars for one’s character and personality – that is Ahar, Vihaar, Achaar and Vichaar.
Ahar – Food. This anybody will obviously take care of when involved in a sports activity.
Vihar – Recreation – Football is a recreational activity.
Achaar – Behaviour
Vichaar – Thoughts.
Pursuing any form of sport is a great way to build one’s personality. Whether it is making a mistake on the field or needing to come back from a major upset, setbacks are bound to happen. And to move forward, players must learn how to persevere.
Whether you are looking down at the ball, dribbling it or looking up at the sky when you kick it, your alertness levels go up. Above and below, and side to side, is your focus. Moving your attention makes you swift. Aiming and shooting make you goal-oriented and protecting the goalpost makes you unflaggingly persistent.
How it helps you socialise better
Since football is a team sport, you are continuously meeting new people and if you are an introvert, joining a players’ group will help you open up. Team sports are always about camaraderie, cohesiveness and being receptive to others’ strengths and weaknesses, so that you can fill in the gaps and become a pillar yourself. Over time, that will make you a team builder in all aspects of your life.
(Dr Mehta has trained Bollywood superstars Akshay Kumar, Preity Zinta, billionaires, politicians, Miss World/Miss Universe candidates and the Maharashtra Police. A best-selling author, he has been appointed FIT India Movement Champion by the Sports Authority of India).