Finding New Ways To Be Active

Activity Post #2

At the start of this year, I challenged myself to find new and more innovative ways to stay active. I interpreted this as taking on new activities and opportunities which I could use to maintain my physical wellbeing in an innovative way using whatever was available to me. In this short period of time I have taken on new experiences ranging from fishing to golf and everything in between, some of which are things I never expected myself to be brave enough to try despite my initial doubts. In hindsight even though not every single experience was suited to my tastes I have no regrets about making the most of the opportunities I was presented, knowing full well that not many people were lucky enough to experience the sports I did especially in the midst of a pandemic.

Golf

When I was younger I always considered golf to be an “old people’s sport”. You may laugh now, but if I’m being completely honest, I just didn’t get the hype of standing around on a grass field watching someone carefully swing a club for an hour till the ball meandered its way into the hole. I must admit though that my judgement is is probably biased since all my life all I ever took part in was dynamic sports seeing that at no point in football, badminton or tennis was I required to stay still and be patient; it was always about a flurry of movement, anticipation and agility.

In addition to that I didn’t think that golf required much skill, I mean how hard could it be to swing a club and hit a ball right? Right… well you see that’s actually not at all true and I had to find out the hard way. My little brother actually took to golf  quite easily last year after he played for fun while we were on holiday while I on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with it. When my parents took Dimitri to his first golf lesson, I good naturedly argued that I wouldn’t see myself playing golf with my friends anytime soon and so I didn’t go but one day  I actually ended up waiting for him at the course. It took place on artificial turf with a bunch of modified elevation levels to duplicate an actual field. I sat there watching him for about 30 minutes till I got restless, even now, I don’t consider golf much of a spectator sport, it’s more like chess, careful and calculated with  LOTS of patience and waiting. Either way, his instructor took notice and asked if I would like to head over to the other side and maybe take a swing or two and I said YES! relieved that I could finally stop counting the seconds left for his 2 hours to be over. I swung confidently thinking that I was going to replicate a Tiger Woods move just like on TV but of course, I missed. I had no technique, the wrong stance, wrong posture and wrong weighting – this is where the difficulty comes into play. Eventually his instructor came around to help me out and gave me a couple pointers on how to stand, where to swing, which muscles to use and how to follow through and believe it or not after taking quite a while to set myself up, I managed my Tiger Woods swing!! I’m kidding of course, but hey, it was a big improvement from what I did before. Now I still don’t go as frequently as my brother does and I would say that it isn’t exactly my favorite sport, but I still go and take my shots whenever I drop in, to each their own right?

My Tiger Woods Swing 😉

^ Getting ready to go body boarding

More Vacation Activities

Another 3 things I tried this past quarter was going body boarding, kayaking and even fishing. Now I had actually been kayaking multiple times before so this wasn’t necessarily my first rodeo but it certainly was the first one where my kayaking partner and I nearly ended up getting beached… We were just so busy enjoying the morning sun and trying to detangle our oars from the lotus roots that neither of us realized that we had ventured into the shallows which had dried out thanks to the warm weather. Thankfully it didn’t require much effort except for getting down knee deep in mud to use teamwork to drag it off of the mudbank, it wasn’t exactly what I would call pleasant but it wasn’t the worst case scenario either, either way I enjoyed it! Next up we decided to go bodyboarding. This had been something that I had been greatly looking forward to because pretty much everyone who had visited Karpaha Sands raved about the beach, and as you may already know the beach is my happy place. Body boarding was a great way to relax and just work some of that stress from school off just rolling with the waves and laughing heartily whenever one of us got wiped out, it also slipped my mind a few times that this would be one of my last summers in my home country so it was a great memory of sorts to keep and naturally a good break from the intensive usual regimes I follow during the weekdays.

^Kayaking!

Last but certainly not least was personally the most shocking encounters for me. My brother has been an avid fish lover since he was a little baby and now that we were surrounded by water he was literally jumping with excitement at the thought of being able to go fishing. I obliged seeing as I had seen Jeremy Wade countless times on the Discovery channel making catch after catch of monster fish and I had thought ‘Hey! This could be my lucky day!’ What discovery channel doesn’t show you however is how truly intense the whole experience is. I’m quite a softie when it comes to animals so when we actually caught a few decently sized fish like the length of my arm I wanted nothing more than to return is safely back into the water because seeing them thrash around the boat wasn’t my idea of fun. I dive, to protect animals not kill them, but sadly for us a lot of the ones that we caught ended up being dinner for our guides. That aside, the physical aspect of fishing comes from the sheer strength and willpower that is needed to fight against the fish that attempts to swim away, it burns your arms and is a constant tug of war till the fish wears out and then another battle to wrestle the hook out of its mouth. All in all I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed that experience too much simply because of my moral dislike towards it, but I do believe that catch and release is enjoyable just not when you don’t have the right resources and the odds of the fish surviving are low, in hindsight my positive takeaway from that of course is that I got somewhat of an arm workout, but I doubt I will be trying that anytime soon again.

First time fishing

Getting Back at It

Activity Post #1 – DP1 Continued Ventures

At the start of this year, one of my main activity related goals was to continue the work I did last year with hiking, football, home workouts and diving. While this year began with quite a bit of uncertainty thanks to the prevailing lockdown conditions in the country which which limited my access to sports facilities and leaving the premises of my house in general, I adapted to the best of my ability to complete my goals in whichever capacity COVID would let me.

Hiking

In my goal blog post at the start of DP2, I mentioned that I would like to go hiking at least once again in the upcoming semester and what do you know, I was actually able to go once again. We were able to revisit Hanthana where my previous hike had been but due to improved weather conditions they actually allowed us to climb up the rock where Indiana Jones the Temple of Doom was filmed!! The exact name of the mountain is unknown but its is somewhere downriver from Victoria Dam in Kandy (which Hanthana is in very close proximity to) and was relatively close to the villa that we stayed at. As for the hike itself I would say that it was rather uneventful as this time around only a smaller handful of us went because the hike is more dangerous and is also at a much higher altitude and as expected not having a five year old with us on the trip eased so much of the pressure on the remaining hikers. That being said, although the terrain got a little bit slippery on the way up we managed to get up without much of a hitch and climb down safely and I felt that this time around I felt safer and more sure because  I knew what to and what not to do i.e.. step on loose rocks on the way down…😂 OH AND THIS TIME GUESS WHO ACTUALLY PACKED THEIR LEECH SOCKS?! Yes, that’s right,  yours truly finally remembered how much she did not want to get eaten by the little bloodsuckers and made sure to bring a pair along. Moving on, now naturally the iconic bridge from the movie was sadly no longer there but it still felt insane and surreal to be standing where this legendary series was filmed in 1984  almost 40 years ago!! And last but not least even though it got a bit too foggy up top to see the entire vista it’s easy to say that this was one of the most physically strenuous yet absolutely rewarding hikes I had done :))

^ Hike #3 since the start of my CAS journey

^ A still from the actual movie featuring the bridge (Den of Geek, 2014)

Diving

Yet another thing that I have been wanting to accomplish recently is to go diving which I had been meaning to do since around 3 months ago but couldn’t do so initially because of island wide travel restrictions and other COVID related concerns. However this time, I did get to actually go do a couple dives albeit they were merely recreational because it was a rather spontaneous decision to go visit the dive centers on our holiday. Unfortunately for me I couldn’t go on more than 1 dive because I couldn’t equalize and any diver would know that the last thing someone should do is continue when they can’t equalize because it could potentially puncture your eardrum so for while my brother went on his dives, I decided to head back to the shore with my friend Nehla (who came on the trip but wasn’t a certified diver) and her family to do some snorkeling closer to the beach. Weirdly enough my equalizing problem didn’t last very long but by that time I discovered that I could. the others were long gone on their dives so I had to sit the second one out which was a bit of a bummer since I was really looking forward to my second dive but snorkeling was fun nonetheless! There were less fish than we expected though most likely because of the state of the corals in the reef which weren’t looking too healthy :/

^ Myself (left) and my friend Nehela (right) snorkeling in Pasikudah

Working Out + Football

The third set of endeavors in the activity section of my blog I am continuing in DP2 is my commitment to football and completing home workouts to remain fit. While football was limited to mostly doing challenging drills at home, taking note from videos such as which guided me through getting back in form every day after school for 30 minutes to maintain my skillset, I also used another 30 minutes every other day (depending on the intensity of the workout) and my IB Wellness Days to complete certain Cirque du Soleil workouts.  Initially, I felt as though I had just signed myself up to a year of torture because the Cirque du Soleil workouts are extremely rigorous and are mostly used by professionally trained athletes and in the first week I had to take many breaks to complete my session and it left me sore for days but after a few sessions of just building up stamina I was able to circulate through about 3 workout videos and taking less breaks. This goes without saying that the workout sessions are still a work in progress and that it’s a matter of getting back in shape before actually straining myself, so looking forward I have decided to maybe alternate my workouts from non Cirque du Soleil ones and the harder ones. In the upcoming months I aim to focus more specifically on cardio, abs, arms and legs and maybe also do some yoga every odd week to relieve some tension that gets built up following my workouts.

Practicing shots on a mini goal for improved accuracy

Here are the videos that I used:

Home Workouts –

Football-

Hikes and Football in Hanthana

From the View to the Leeches and Everything in Between

Around a month ago on April the 15th, I got the privilege of being able to travel with my family and a few friends to a region in Sri Lanka called named Hanthana (which by the way, for any film buffs out there, is where Indiana Jones the Temple of Doom was filmed!)

We set out on a rather long journey of about 5 hours (which arguably felt longer due to the migraine inducing effects of holiday traffic) from Colombo to the hillside where our villa resided. It was rather rainy by the time we got there so we immediately assumed the worst and thought we wouldn’t be allowed to go on our much awaited hike the next day. However, much to our excitement the staff at the villa said it wouldn’t be a problem.

The next morning we woke up at around 6 am and put on our gear, which for me was lacking an element because I had forgotten to pack my leech socks (yikes) and ate a very light breakfast of about 2 scones and left on our way. This was going to be the first proper hike that I had ever been on, given that the one that I talked about in my earlier post about in Hatton didn’t technically count because there wasn’t much of an ascent and since it was on practically paved ground.

As we moved towards the starting point I made sure to stick next to the guide all the way up at the front because the last thing I wanted was to be behind around 10 kids and 5 adults trying to slowly amble their way up a mountain and also… because we had a dog climbing Hanthana’s third peak with us, and no, I am not exaggerating when I say he really climbed to the very top of the mountain with unbelievable ease – Bantu the dog was always 5 steps ahead of everyone else.

It was rather tricky from the get go, in fact it was a lot steeper than we expected it to be and the footpath, well… there wasn’t one, which meant that it was a lot of loose rocks, barely there hand holds and the constant fear of slipping. On top of that our littlest hiker, Evan,  (you’re probably familiar with him being one of kids I coach football with)  was all the way at the front with the guide and he tripped a few too many times in a way that  that took the guide out and nearly took me out as well! However, thankfully, it was pretty uneventful except for a few incidents along the way where someone couldn’t adjust to the altitude and naturally the occasional scream of “LEECH! I HAVE A LEECH!!” which was quickly taken care of.  Much to my relief I never ended up with a single leech on me despite the complete absence of leech socks.

Physically it was quite strenuous because of how far up you had to reach and how much balance you needed to have, but in hindsight I felt as though overcoming the mental hurdles of climbing up a mountain unassisted was a much greater challenge. Needless to say about halfway to the peak we came across a gorgeous plateau which literally looked like something out of a dream. It was covered in reeds and cocooned by pine trees and overlooking the edge we were just above the clouds, it was genuinely a breathtaking sight.

Soon after taking a short break and climbing what felt like the narrowest part of the mountain we reached the peak, but there was another smaller boulder on top which the braver ones of us climbed. It was an amazing view and I was able to snap up some amazing pictures. All the while I was ignoring the dull ache in my legs and the fact that I was panting and out of breath; the view was simply too good to be true, it was one that was worth it all.

The climb down was a whole other fiasco if you will. Evan kept tripping up sending both himself and the guide down on multiple occasions, and somewhere on our way down I stepped on a rock as foothold which came completely loose and I nearly ended up falling off the mountain if not for the guide who grabbed me (he had Spiderman like reflexes there is no there is no other explanation for how he literally jumped about a meter to get me because he was tending to Evan earlier). It was slightly odd considering how unfazed I was I just stood up and kept walking without anything more than a few cuts and scrapes. I am eternally grateful however that nothing happened, but hey, no pain no gain right?

Regardless of all the ups and downs I had a lot of fun, conquered a new experience and overcame a few fears, while also getting some physically intensive activity in which all in all, I would call a successful outing. Even more so, it was a much needed break from the screen to  embrace nature, get some fresh air and enjoy the real world and even got to coach a few more children than I usually would before the lockdown was officially imposed afterwards! Majority of the other kids that came to Hanthana were my brother’s age meant that we had a massive open space to play in and that they were younger and willing to be coached aside for the worry that they were going to get bitten by a leach that is. Once the hard part of convincing them to come outside to play for a small while was done, I taught them correct passing techniques and other technicalities like throw ins, headers and corner kicks and finally ended our session with a small scrimmage and an opportunity for them to score at the goal, helping them boost their shooting confidence and accuracy.  At some point I even decided to play along too which was great because I had been impatiently waiting for an opportunity to get back on the field again for months on end and although it didn’t feel the same as playing competitively with my team, it was a nice game for a good laugh and some rewinding in my downtime, and I am happy to say that the kids came away with more knowledge about the game than what they started with!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaching

My Return to Coaching 

As a part of one of my CAS experiences that applies to both service and activity, I decided to take on the challenge of becoming a co-coach of Decathlon’s La Academia on a voluntary basis. I had about 2-3 months of total work experience, where I coached kids aged 5-11 each Sunday before COVID forced the club to shut down due to health precautions. Precautions which are still applicable as of now, especially considering that these kids are rather young and since the club can’t really afford to take any liability for the spread of the pandemic. So in the absence of my half internship half part time job, I decided that I could find other alternatives to do the same but in a different context.

After hearing about my time as co-coach, I was approached by a few of my parents’ friends who were wondering if I could spend one on one time coaching their kids. This was a brilliant opportunity for me to both practice my ability to coach and to share some of my experience so I immediately said yes.  Now, naturally there would be no pay involved, but I would take any excuse to play the game and even teach some kids a few things about something that was so important to me growing up so there really is no loss in taking it up. So starting last Sunday, I began leading my own sessions, I have 4 kids who come for training as of right now, mostly 7 and 8 year old’s from the OSC community itself  along with another kid who is a neighbor  (we don’t have a field to play in as of now which I am not too worried about since we currently play in one of my mom’s friends backyard’s with two goal posts as well).

Although the initiative may seem small in numbers right now, I think that it couldn’t really be more ideal. For one thing, I have known most of these kids since they were little so engaging with them is much easier, on a second note I’m a single coach whereas at Decathlon there were two others so I prefer keeping it low in terms of numbers as it’s easier to manage especially since they’re at a very talkative and mischievous stage, and lastly, like I said earlier, there is very much a pandemic raging on right now so it’s safest to keep the numbers small.

From first day experience I can only describe is a both fun and draining. The kids that I got introduced to are quite energetic (that might be a little bit of an understatement) so retaining their attention for extended periods of time has been by far the trickiest part of coaching, but thankfully with my earlier experiences I now know how to deal with that.

I began their sessions with a few laps around the garden, some basic stretches and warmups and passing drills. Next I put aside cones for them to dribble around, and we spent a good amount of time making sure they knew where to pass from and how to keep control of the football. Next we practiced some heading since I knew it was important to alternate my drills between educational and somewhat fun to keep their interests. Towards the last 30 minutes of my two hour session with them I decided to let them play 2 v 2, even playing the role of goalie when none of them wanted to be in goal. It was also important to give them little tips here and there to communicate, not clutter around and pass the ball and judging by their laughs they were having as much a blast as  I was watching them race to take shots. I have to say that  I was pleasantly surprised by how good they played for their age level. Just before they headed off I decided to incorporate one last fun piece, which was to try and teach them each a skill move before they went home; last week it was the nutmeg which they absolutely loved, but they played rock paper scissors to decide who got to pick the next skill they wanted to learn.

Overall, it was incredibly rewarding and I really look forward to doing it again in the coming weeks  :))

^ Evan practicing his ball control on day 1 of practice

Easing Into Normalcy – Sports Edition

SURFING IN WELIGAMA + BADMINTON TRAINING + BIKING

During the past 2 lockdowns, I have had limited access to resources that enable me to do two things I love to do; to travel and to be active. Unfortunately as a result of the pandemic many people including myself were limited to the confines of our houses with travel restrictions, lack of access to sporting facilities and training opportunities etc. As someone who likes to be kept on their feet all the time, the withdrawal of playing my favorite sports or even not being able to travel hasn’t exactly been my definition of smooth sailing; but thankfully, the provision of vaccinations has made it possible for me to slowly ease my way back into most of my favorite activities.

BADMINTON TRAINING

As I mentioned in my earlier blog post, football restarted and as did badminton only this week. This was exciting primarily because it’s been a while since I was allowed to go back into the courts since we trained in closed spaces with fairly large numbers.

A few things have changed however, in regards to how our sessions operate, though I can’t complain because it’s all being done in an effort to prioritize our health. For example, as opposed to group classes with a large number of students, my brother and I were given the option of private lessons, that is till it becomes safe for more people to be in close proximity again. Although the downside is that I won’t be able to compete at the moment with players who are at my level, I get more one to one time with my coach to perfect things like technique and focus more on fitness, similar to what I have been doing recently in football practice.

Primarily our lesson this week consisted of agility training, quite a bit of cardio, and a 6 shuttle drill where you place them on 6 parts of the court and sprint to collect them before your opponent. As for personal areas for development I was told that I could work on my serving which I’m sure I can get down in no time, it usually takes some time to know where to make contact, positioning and stance etc.  I practiced clearing shots from my coach as well and he was quite happy with my work although I missed two shots because of bad reaction time.

Overall, I’m really excited to get back into shape and hopefully I’ll be able to play some actual matches soon in order to be fully prepared by the time next SAISA season rolls by!

Video From Training: Clearing Drill

https://drive.google.com/file/d/14u35-5NoFWyWl_pktGverfqPlOSqOYI3/view?usp=sharing

 

SURFING IN WELIGAMA

Another thing I was able to accomplish this month was learning how to surf :))

I had been wanting to go surfing for the longest time since I was young, and even more so now that  it was one of the only water sports that I hadn’t really tried out except for kitesurfing and water skiing. So  being given the ability to travel after not being able to go to the beach for a very long time was the perfect opportunity for me to go catch a much needed serotonin boost at beach on the long weekend.

My experience with surfing began as we headed down to the Marriott at Weligama Bay for a little vacation after our trip to Hiriketiya for my beach cleanup.

After taking some much needed rest, we decided to wake up at the break of dawn to have some breakfast and then head down to a sparsely crowded beach at around 6 am. There, both my brother and I got introduced to our guides and we had land training where they taught us how to position ourselves on a board, how to catch a wave how to stand up and where to jump off before we reached the shore. My little brother, Dimitri, admittedly picked it up faster than I did because he had gone surfing before.

When we had gotten the technique down and tried it out in the shallow water, our guides took us over to the point where the waves form, for the first couple tries they would hold onto the board and give us a cue to push off and stand up.

Much to the amusement of my onlooking mother, my form was a little wobbly at the start and I had to do a lot of not so smooth looking jerky arm movements to retain my balance, but I swear that I eventually got the hang of it!  It was a fun yet exhausting 4 hours, having to paddle all the way back to the wave point each time, and I even once forgot to jump off before it got too shallow and ended up getting a nasty cut on my knee, but it was time really well spent. I can safely say that I am no pro at surfing but I very much look towards learning how to a become better surfer thankfully I got good enough to move to a more challenging part of the beach which made my experience that much more exciting. Hopefully though,  the next time around I’ll be able to catch some of the bigger waves and stay on with minimal struggle, because after seeing the older surfers on the beach I was a tad star struck, especially by this girl my parents pointed out to me who was maybe my age or a little older taking on some GIANT waves with ease and doing all these really cool flips on her board; which I have a gut feeling that it took way more than two tries to learn to do something of that caliber because it was so well executed.

Intro Session to Surfing ^

First try: 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BMZnQOlkYBqDnVkX0RaaCTNTi8ykso36/view?usp=sharing

BIKING:

Another sport that caught my interest a while ago was biking, you might remember a post I made a few months ago on my time biking at Ullagala, well, thankfully, I’ve been able to do it much more frequently thanks to getting my own bike fixed. After getting back and getting it serviced, I’ve been using it quite frequently, in fact, it’s a pretty neat commute to all the nearest stores and this gorgeous lake / paddy field areas right next to my house! The roads close to home are fairly safe to travel on and are arguably well paved so I get the opportunity to take nice bike rides in the evening or even very early in the morning which is a nice change from the exercise bike that I had been using all lockdown long.

When we were on holiday, it was pretty amazing since even that resort had a bike service and all we had to do is ride it and return it before we left. Now, the views weren’t quite as nice as at Ulagalla but the track was seemingly a bit longer and had more routes to take which was great. It was extra fun this time around because all my friends who came on the trip had a lot of fun with it, playfully racing each other to the end or even trying to do cool tricks like riding with no hands on the handles. (We came away without so much as a scratch much to everyone’s relief!)

It’s been great so far being able to cycle around at different times of the day because it has an incredibly laid back nature to it especially when I’ve gotten a pair of headphones on and am just trying to take in the scenery by myself and of course, this goes without saying that it’s improving my general fitness and my lower body strength in particular :))

biking! ^

 

Tennis!

Tennis Practice

If I’m being honest, I don’t remember the last time I picked up a tennis racket, in fact if I remember correctly, it would have most likely been sometime between the 4th and 6th grade. Now, nearly 5 years, 2 COVID lockdowns, and one Australian Open viewing later, something has prompted me to give the game another go.

What inspired me to randomly go grab my racket from the garage you ask? Well, that would be the Australian Open Finals which I randomly tuned into on TV on the 21st of Feb. Now, although I had grown up playing tennis, even competitively since the 2nd grade, I never really kept up with the professional aspect of the sport. However, what I did know was that Serena Williams being beaten by a rookie was without a doubt a big deal; Naomi Osaka was being called the future of the sport and taking the world by a storm.

So, I decided to put my work aside and sit down for a good 2 hours on a Sunday to watch the finals between Jen Brady and Osaka and then, the game which crowned Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek the Men’s Doubles Champions.

It was only then that I had realized how much I had forgotten about the game and how satisfying it was to win a game. Although, I thrived in the sport when I was a kid, at some point I grew out of touch with it; primarily because I dedicated more time to badminton which is similar in many ways but still very different, and even though I missed it dearly, I never saw a window of opportunity for me to get back to playing it.

In fact I think that part of me stopping my tennis training had to do with the fact that one of my coaches said that playing both sports at the same time was not beneficial to one another; i.e. because of vast differences between grip and stance etc.

On another note though, watching Osaka bring home the trophy was sensational. It reminded me of how fast paced the game was and how heavily it relied on technicality and athleticism, i.e. precision, angling and power, whereas in badminton for example, the game relies more on the pace and ability to play the shuttle out of the opponent’s reach.

I was in awe watching the finals as a calm and collected Naomi Osaka kept her composure and then proceeded to skillfully and effortlessly win the game with copious amounts of technique and athleticism. It’s almost as if she knew all along that she would win and she saw Brady’s blind spots from the very start.

As for the men’s doubles, I was awestruck when I realized I had forgotten how intense a game could get and how quickly points could be won or lost and how it relied much less on rallies but placement. Once again, I was shocked by how each of them maintained such calmness while playing under such massive amounts of pressure when the winning duo recovered from a pretty bad lead.

Either way, I was delighted by both wins, I was rooting for Naomi from the start, especially since she had done so much to use her platform to promote the Black Lives Matter movement and her persona really shined in the way that she was humbled by the whole experience. Moreover, I found myself in awe of how much she has accomplished being an Asian, considering how much our culture tends to often times restrict the bounds of what girls like myself and many others from our side of the world can dream about achieving.

I had a renewed sense of energy and immediately made a pitstop to the store next to our house to get a tennis ball. Now, things weren’t ideal, I didn’t have a coach or a proper court close by , but if there was anything that lockdown had taught me, it was that you just had to make do with what was available to you. And so with a new sense of determination I vowed to myself to  take 30 minutes out of each Sunday without fail to make 40 volleys each on  forehand and backhand off a wall, 10 good serves and if my little brother was up to it, hopefully a little match which could never get too intense for the fear of breaking a window…

As to whether I want to play competitively again, I’m not so sure, but it’s most definitely a huge stress reliever for me and not to mention a really fun way to spend time, in fact I a part of me is even hoping that I would be able to head to a court with some of my friends sometime, since a few of my friends  used to train with when we were kids all the way back in primary school!

 

 

Football Training :)

Back on the Pitch

I went back to training for the first time in over  a year today!!!

I can’t emphasize enough how much I’ve missed playing football with actual teammates, and how upset I was when I noticed that around 2 weeks ago we could’ve been on our way to SAISA for our tournament. Needless to say, though I am a little sad about not getting to train with my school team, it was refreshing to be back with a football at my feet.

Since it was the first training back for a lot of us at the academy, we spent majority of the session focusing on drills, simple dribbling, passing, skills and accuracy. It was clear that most of us had lost our top form so it was really a matter of getting us back to our regular fitness levels so that we could play full 90 minute games. The second part of our session was spent on cardio and stamina, i.e. running the beep test… What a nice well come back right? 😂  Even though I despised exhausting myself that early in the afternoon, it was clear I needed it, as a player it’s not just good enough to be able to kick a ball, you need the mental and physical capacity to grit through some rough plays and seemingly endless minutes on the pitch, and it was clear that a lack of playing time for near a year was taking a toll on most of our endurance.

And finally… the most long awaited part of the session, a scrimmage! YES, you heard that right, an actual 6 vs 6 game, with REAL players!! We played our hearts out channeling all the irritation of not being able to play into that one game and before we knew it my team had 6 points in the bag! The other team had 2 but that was a pretty good margin considering we played one man less in the goal. I managed to get 2 of our shots in on the top right hand corner while giving 2 other assists to two of the other players, Jehan and Nic.

All in all, by the end of the game I was beyond ready to get a full nights sleep and every muscle in my body was screaming for a rest but it was well worth it and I very much look foreword to going back again and being fully fit, hopefully by the time that next SAISA rolls around :))

Dribbling, first warmup back:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1igBeqkcIztaPs8QyfNdnC-XlmIXMzqyv/view?usp=sharing

IVY GIRLS – Pt. 2

IVY GIRLS – ACTION PROJECT

In my last blog post, I introduced everyone to the IVY GIRLS Lead project which I became a member of in late December 2020. However, although in my earlier post, my focus was on the guest speaker element of the project,  another major part of the program that  I want to talk about is the service task which we were asked to complete after our first 2 weeks as a trial to see how well we were able to apply what we were taught to real life.

We were each asked to pick out a topic on which we wanted to work on and then assigned groups with random members based off of our interests. We were then asked to brainstorm a project outline, create an effective plan and then present it to a panel of judges on our final day of week 2. Once approved we were expected to complete our tasks over the span of 3 months (or more) to hopefully end up accomplishing the intended end goal.

I had a difficult time choosing between two topics, gender inequality and ocean pollution. The deciding factor in the end ended up being the fact that I had to choose something that was doable during the COVID situation, and while I was passionate about sport I had doubts that others would think the same way. This is why I decided to continue my efforts which I started out in the 10th Grade with my MYP 5 Personal Project, only this time, with added elements and it being more of a group effort. This would also ultimately help me in fulfilling my CAS goals.

Our progress check in was actually due yesterday, here is an excerpt from what I submitted on behalf of my group members…

Towards the start of  the of Ivy Girls Lead action project, the Reef Revival group consisting of Thimanya and Ayesha and I took on a very venturesome initiative to raise awareness on to raise awareness regarding the issue of ocean pollution amongst social media users; while, taking a personal course of order to do our part in combating the issue in question within Sri Lanka’s oceans. 

Over the course of the past few months we have done our level best to stay true to our goal despite many major challenges we were met with.

Here are few of the biggest obstacles we have faced:

  • Although I reached out to 5 dive centers in order to initiate underwater cleanups and only one responded, we were able to carry out two dives but they shut down too due to the lack of business and risk of COVID (i.e.. having to re-use equipment). 
  • We could not have as much physical engagement as we liked considering the pandemic situation so we were forced to do this within our families and close friend circles in a much less official way. 
  • Thimanya could not get a lot of beach cleanup participants considering the COVID-19 situation as well.
  • School work and distance interfered more with our project than we anticipated, while Thimanya and I kept continuous correspondence via WhatsApp and G-Mail our third group member who was supposed to take on the role of the researcher did not interact with us at all despite how many times we emailed her or used slack, which meant that Thimanya and I had to carry out her share of the tasks ourselves.

Overall, the obstacles that we were faced with, to a degree reduced our productivity and narrowed down the limits of how much we could achieve with our goal during this period of time, however, I am very proud of how we decided to stay true to our initial plan and took up our goals to the best of our ability. 

Here are a few of our greatest accomplishments:

  • We officially launched our social media campaign, Reef Revival which gained the desired amount of traction and so much more than we anticipated we hit 50 followers in 3 days!
  • Our first post, which was a trailer / awareness edit that I made as an introduction to our initiative, reached many activists around the world who congratulated us on our efforts, our friends and family were also very supportive and reposted and shared our content etc. We were pleasantly overwhelmed by the support.
  • Thimanya who was in charge of the beach cleanups carried two out successfully at Pinawatta  within her family and with the help of the municipal council in her district. 
  • I was able to carry out two successful dive cleanups at Swami Rock, collecting over 30kg’s worth of debris, most of our haul consisting of plastic bags and bottles with additional surprising collections of a massive cement block, fish cage wiring, a few corroded poles, lots of rope and ceramics. 
  • We came into contact with a major ocean pollution advocate and social media influencer named Arlian Ecker on Instagram. He’s only 16 and is already an ambassador for Project AWARE with over 2k followers! The Ocean Purpose Project panelist has been a great mentor and has actively encouraged us to follow through with our project. We even discussed the prospects of doing a Q and A or collaborative project with him in the near future! (which we are very excited for! )
  • Our project was kickstarted with the help of many other popular awareness blogs such as SEAFOAM , Bali Dive Time and Aqua5 who loved our content and helped spread the word about our initiative.
  • Our first post had a 36 person share rate which is pretty major for an Instagram post!
  • I was also able to carry out my own beach cleanup with the help of my family and friends at a beach in Hiriketiya which was very polluted to the begin with; the content we recovered ranged from bottles of poison to fishing lines and an overwhelmingly large collection of washed up shoes. 
  • We were able to engage with our followers via the IG story feature, regularly quizzing and educating them on our action; we decided that stories would be more efficient than releasing posts because they get a bigger reach due to notifications that followers get, but we also release a few posts designed by Thimanya.
  • I was also able to log my Data successfully onto Project AWARE’s diver profile which is available to the general diving community and scientists who analyze the data that divers collect. 

What the future holds for Reef Revival:

Hopefully we are able to continue our efforts in the following months especially with the COVID situation easing around the island, we are hoping that for the sake of the project and the local community that Dive Centers are allowed to go back into business so that we can have greater engagement with the community, have more cleanups and make it a more engaging experience. As for the near future, we are currently looking forward to doing the Q and A with Arlian Ecker (plastic free boy)  and hopefully get many more activists involved in the project, maybe even at local capacity. We also plan on  carrying out the installation of the bins in the beaches close by with the money that Thimanya has raised for that purpose and more generally, expanding our following and engagement.

Creativity – Designing Posts + Stories

Activity – Diving 

Service – Raising Awareness + The Removal of Rubbish

 

Detailed Action Plan:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Cb46XrVRakONA2p7vJkNC-jin__8nwmI/view?usp=sharing

Progress Check- In ( click link for more images & details ): 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1nabsBU7EQ7T7pRWvcbQKyxZjEjADtBiXa0jZ6PNACW4/edit?usp=sharing

^ hiriketiya beach pre-cleanup

[OUR LOGO] 

CAS Activity Session!

CAS Workout Day

During the first CAS lesson of the week this week, we were encouraged to dedicate the lesson to completing a CAS event surrounding the theme of activity; our options were left open ended giving us the opportunity to take part in exercise as versatile as boxing or biking among many other things; however, thinking back on my CAS activity experience over the course of the DLP, I came to a realization that a heavy majority of my workouts had been cardio based and dynamic and while I had put my muscles to use each time, I hadn’t spent much time individually engaging specific muscle groups. Thus, I decided to carry out a stationary workout focusing on  my abdominals, biceps and triceps in an upper arm strength and ab workout which may not sound all that extravagant but is to the point and effective nonetheless.

The first workout consisted of 7 exercises, each of which had 12 reps. I did the workout with the intention of successfully engaging my core muscles for brief periods of time in order to get more defined abdominals; ideally over the course of a few weeks. As the website says, if the circuit is continued for up to 3-4 times a week, with the correct diet and good form, results will show in about 6 weeks. Moreover at this point I intend to keep in shape during quarantine rather than aim for a full six pack or something of the sort at the moment.

The workouts went as follow, feel free to attempt them if you have the time and adjust the intensity and reps. to your liking :))

Workout 1 – Ab Definition Circuit

A series of crunch variations –

  • Basic Crunches
  • Reverse Crunches
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Overhead Crunches

Followed by 3 plank variations –

  • Planks
  • Side Planks
  • Extended Planks

The second workout focused on building and strengthening my arms, specifically, my biceps and triceps. This was a longer workout with multiple repetitions and it primarily focused of the intensity of repetitions as opposed to the difficulty of the exercises.

Workout 2 – Arm Toning Workout

Source: Women’s Health Magazine

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/fitness/a20702885/arm-toning-exercises/

  • Bicep Curls
  • Upright Row
  • Triceps Kickback
  • Rear Delt Fly
  • Overhead Triceps Extension
  • The Dumbbell Floorpress
  • Kettlebell Swing

These each consisted of 12 reps of each exercise and 3 repetitions of the circuit for the completion of 4 full rounds.

Personally my favorite ab exercise was either the Overhead Crunch as it held the least strain on my neck and it engaged all of my upper body while on the contrary, I struggled slightly with the maintenance of good form during the Side and Extended planks as they were in the final stages of my workout meaning that I had already consumed up most of my energy by the time I had to do the final two drills.

Likewise, for the arm workouts I enjoyed the Upright Row and the Bicep Curl because I felt the two were most convenient and effective for me. Two exercises that I struggled towards the end with were the Overhead Triceps Extension and the Dumbbell Floorpress as I did a few more repetitions than what was asked of me and the Dumbbell Floorpress was my final exercise in the routine so I was rather drained by the 3rd round of the circuit.

Towards the end of my session I felt rather spent and my muscles ached but it also felt like a refreshing job well done. Naturally, I will continue to do the workouts as regularly as recommended in order to reap the best results, while perhaps extending my workouts to leg day and maybe even a session or two of yoga to even things out. I look foreword to my next workout and to seeing the final results in a few weeks time! :))

^ My workout equipment + music to keep me motivated!

Staying Active!

Football Training + Biking, Trekking and Kayaking in Ulagalla

Ulagalla Trip:

During the December break, my family and I went on vacation to a region in Sri Lanka called Anuradhapura to a resort called Uga Ulagalla. This was not only a much needed break from the screen and the city but it also served as the perfect opportunity for me to take part in something other than my regular home workouts on gym equipment, as the hotel premises were surrounded by acres of land and nature and the only way to get to your villas aside from using a buggy was by biking a few kilometers from the reception. I made sure to make the most use of this as the biking trail was pretty magnificent; the roads were fully paved and every 5 meters or so you would be met with unique a different wild animal. They ranged from peacocks to horses, falcons to snakes and terrapins just to name a few. I’d say that in our 4 days spent there, my most exciting encounter while biking was seeing a large crested hawk eagle take down an even larger junglefowl for breakfast not 2 meters away from us!!!

This wasn’t the least of my physical activity while in Ullagala; two mornings in a row my family friends and I headed down at the break of dawn to a historic reservoir called Kalawewa for kayaking. We stayed paddling around the reservoir for around 5 hours while the guides gave us a run down of it’s history. It was a rather breathtaking sight as the waterfront faced a mountain range called Kinhirikanda and it was shrouded in mist when we got there early in the morning. Getting there had been a workout in itself since it required a long trek along a super muddy trail.

The history of the lake itself seemed pretty surreal to begin with, since the construction of it happened in 460 AD without the help of the machinery we have available in 2021.

Kayaking was a little bit tricky to say the least since the lake essentially overflowed with lotus leaves which the oars got frequently stuck in the roots of and my kayaking partner and I had to constantly duck out of the way of overhead branches and maneuver carefully in order to not startle any of the birds. Needless to say, I was the definition of exhausted at the end of 5 hours, but I felt that it was time well spent. The most exciting part of kayaking? It probably HAD to be the bend in the reservoir which had a small island with a single tree on it that was flooded due to high tide. Unfortunately we had a bit of a difficult time making our rounds as the water was too shallow for our kayaks so there was a lot of heaving and communication involved to work effectively as a pair. Overall though, I had a lot of fun, I got in my dosage of an arm workout and, I learned a lot about my country’s history and about the flora and fauna in the region.

          ^ Biking!!!

Football!!!! 

If there’s one thing I am sure of, it is that if you know me well personally, you would easily understand my excitement at being back on the pitch. I had missed the game dearly during lockdown, only being restricted to watching games on the tv and playing the occasional “scrimmage” with my little brother and dogs as my only opponents (for contextual purposes, lets just say that neither of them know very much about the game). So, after months of planning which required me to find a pitch or garden big enough for us to play in, to then reach out to them and ask if we could use theirs and to find a time convenient for us both, I asked Doga to come train with me.

We each did our bit of research and looked up different drills we could try including a few from previous SAISA trainings that we could use to help us get back in shape. During our 2 hours on the field, we warmed up, ran a few laps, did a few sprints (we ended up trying to kick the ball up the hill and we had to race to get the ball back so the uphill ascent was an additional challenge).

It was a little more difficult during the passing drills than normally would be, since there’s usually a lot more people involved; however, I was glad we were able to make do with what we had and we ended up practicing our touches, chipping, long and short passes. We even took turns being in goal for a bit taking penalty shots which only confirmed that I was never cut out for the position of goalie 😛 In all honesty though,  I felt I needed to work a lot more on precision as a lot of my shots, although they were powerful, they kept sailing way above the net!

I should give us some credit though since it had been over 6 months since we were on an actual pitch. Next we practiced some dribbling, we had to creatively come up with objects that could suffice as cones so we used everything we had available from shoes to bottles and rocks. I’d say that we had both maintained our dribbling abilities pretty well as we completed those skills pretty competently. For the last 30 minutes of our session, we decided to do something more relaxed and I taught Doga how to do the rainbow and how to juggle and we ended up trying to volley the football in our rendition of ‘keepy uppies’.

All in all, it was a really fun but productive session and I look foreword to more (maybe with more people if COVID eases up)!!

^ Doga and I at practice :))

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