When the ball leaves you | sports

Before and after

This coming week will mark a year since Maradona’s death and the strength of his personality still shakes public opinion through series, books, podcasts and countless special programs that will commemorate him. It cannot surprise us, he was a genius in his field, so as long as there is football, there will be Maradona. But it is still incredible that we have not finished digesting that intense life, half glory and half hell. Maradona built his kingdom within a soccer field thanks to his extraordinary talent and his volcanic personality. Then, without the ball in between, life became long, to the point of turning the hero into a victim. The exaggerated Maradona turned everything into a spectacle, but it must be said that, for the sports community without exception, there is a before and after when the race is dropped.

A gap that is not filled with money

This week it was Joaquín who spoke of the end of his career, although he still has one foot on the stirrup. He did it with his usual grace, but even a festive personality like hers will take the hit. It is unavoidable. There is a fear of emptiness when a passion that has accompanied us since childhood ends. Is there a greater privilege than living from a game? It is very true that a high level player who retires these days will not have to think about money if he lives responsibly. But the gap left by what you love is not filled with money alone. Suddenly the routine in which we spent time, the recognition of such a popular activity, even the pressure that ate our heads, disappears. Simply, in the middle of life, you have to become someone else and discover another vocation. Another question: how does our closest circle see us, in that trance?

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Who are we when we are no longer?

Because the type that the children watched more on TV than at home, from one day to the next becomes a piece of furniture in the middle of the living room. Thus, the hero shrinks. I will explain it through the eyes of a child. I left football at the age of 30 and very soon I began to collaborate with the media. As the new imposes, an attack of responsibility seized me. He bought newspapers and chopped them up with scissors to file in folders and paste in notebooks. My daughter was just under five years old and one day her teacher asked the class to talk about her parents’ profession. Everyone had a clear answer: doctor, lawyer, journalist or whatever. When her turn came, my daughter could only say: “My father cut and paste.” There is no known greater degradation of a brand new world champion.

Prepare for the jump

From Maradona to Joaquín there are many differences, but there are no two identical cases. However, there is a single recipe for the entire sports community: that the day after you find them ready. The only way to overcome bewilderment, the feeling of emptiness and even the threat of depression, is to occupy your time with a challenging task: a new work activity, taking care of your own investments, studying, cutting and pasting… Whatever. These days I will have to present, in the Professional Football League, a program on the end of the professional career of athletes, whose purpose is to accompany them to the other side of football and that they feel the end as an opportunity rather than as a threat. Few things make me happier than participating in educational projects that fill such a large gap.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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