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…ūüėā 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

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? ūüėā¬† 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

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 ūüėõ 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 :))

Keeping Active in Hatton

Keeping Active in Hatton

During the past few months, finding ways of keeping fit at home and just, during the pandemic in general, proved to be a challenging task. Especially since all of the sports that I usually take part in during the year (football, volleyball and badminton etc.) had to be cancelled; practices, training and travel plans included. Overall, I found this rather taxing to deal with, because, I tend to dedicate a lot of my time to sports and it felt strange not having a game or practice to look foreword to each week. Naturally, I realized that I couldn’t let this hinder my performance for when these sports do re-start, so, I decided to take the matter into my own hands and to complete guided workouts / individual drill sessions at home using the help of the internet, gym and sports equipment I have available at home. (LO4)

Luckily for me, aside from doing personal workouts I take part in at home, I got a unique opportunity to visit Hatton (a hill country town in central Sri Lanka) just days prior to the lockdown. In Hatton, there was plenty to do since we were safely isolated along with a few other families from school that travelled with us. We essentially had an entire bungalow and hillside to ourselves because of that lack of regular tourist groups which left us with a lot of empty space and sports equipment to use.

In the 5 days in which we stayed there I spent most of my time during the daytime either swimming, playing badminton in the field, playing soccer or even canoeing.

Activities that included ones that I didn’t usually partake in included mountain biking along the hillside trail down to Castlereagh Lake and even a 20 kilometer hike across the Tea Trails Estate. The hike was probably my favorite; the views were breathtaking and we came across a small stream in which we stopped by after we passed countless, countless tea gardens, wildlife and streams. Looking over the Castlereagh Lake from the summit of the hill was another worldly experience, the sun staining the water an iridescent shade of blue. That in combination with the coniferous trees and cool temperatures made it feel like I was stepping back into Europe as opposed to still being at home.

I decided to try and keep my pace up so I stayed at the front of the pack and eventually became the first one to reach our bungalow which made me feel a little accomplished since it had been literal months since I went hiking or even went on a sprint. The next day left my legs a little sore from both the uphill biking and the hike but I felt a sense of refreshment. My favorite part of the day otherwise, was playing soccer in the large garden with the other children who came along; it had been so long since I actually played a match so it felt amazing shooting at an actual goal with real teammates as opposed to the wall in my backyard with my dogs as my only opponents. I also spent some time alone on the field where I took multiple shots at the goal to improve my accuracy and tried a few dribbling drills around obstacles that I created using our shoes. I even took time to teach some of the younger kids between the ages of 5 and 12 how to play with better technique, drawing from the skills I learned at my internship with Decathlon as a coach. (LO2) At the end of the day and even the week, it was safe to say that my time there was well spent and it felt rejuvenating to have been able to play actual sports like the old days…

Needless to say I was a little sad to leave Hatton behind, but I came home with a renewed energy to use my time outside wisely.

View from the top of Tea Trails Hill (Dunkeld Estate)

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