Écrire des lettres aux personnes âgées

Writing letters to the elderly – French Service Project 2021

As student in French B this year, I was told at the start of DP1 that I would be required to cover are all three areas of CAS in 3 posts by the end of my 2 year DP journey. Luckily for myself, I thought ahead of time and have managed to complete 2 of the 3 tasks. I successfully completed my first task when I made my own rendition of the Swiss desert, bonhommes last Christmas and I have just now done my part in my French service project.

For this year, myself and a few of my classmates, chose to write letters to the residents of an elders home who have had a hard time with COVID being unable to see their families and were in need of a little bit of cheering up :)) By keeping that intention in mined, I set out with the goal of writing my letter (shown below) to put a smile on their faces and to assure them that everything would be just fine during COVID and that the tough times will pass. My letter began with me introducing myself, my name, my age, my home and my hobbies etc. after which, I went on to talk about my own experience in quarantine and how it is affecting my life and its shortcomings, while I also assured my pen pal about how it it possibly the only way for things to go back to normal. I talked about how it has given me the time to explore things such as hobbies that I would usually not participate in leisurely in the absence of COVID, namely hobbies of mine such as playing music, reading and playing with my dogs which I haven’t had the time to engage in due to school. And at last, I said that  I hoped they were doing well and concluded with an inspirational quote by a man named Robert Choquette who said something the lines of, “At the heart of uncertainty, there will always be hope, no matter how weak it is.” and included 2 pictures of my dogs because let’s be there’s no bigger serotonin boost than puppies out there.

En français: 

Cette année, pour mon projet de service CAS, j’ai choisi d’écrire une lettre aux personnes âgées dans une maison pour personnes âgées en France. J’ai choisi de le faire parce que je savais que COVID doit être plus difficile pour eux que pour moi, car la plupart du temps, ils ne pourront pas voir les membres de leur famille, alors je voulais les rendre heureux et pleins d’espoir et leur rappeler que tout allait bien se passer.

Alors je leur ai écrit cette lettre:

 

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!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Service Post Pt.2 – Food + Diaper Drives

Hope for Kids Food Diaper + Food Drives

Aside from all the work we’ve been doing on raising awareness at Hope for Kids, we also wanted to make sure that we in some way directly helped out with our long time partner, the CCC Cancer House in Maharagama. Although we were not allowed to physically meet the kids at the home, we wanted to make sure they were comfortable during their stay at the home during the pandemic as majority of the families were not permitted to leave the premises out of fear for contamination. So, we decided to host 2 drives. One, a diaper drive for the younger children and two, a food drive!  The diaper drive was conducted during the duration of the time when we were still online schooling, which meant that we simply put out notices on social media and asked for the diaper contributions to be left at the school for collection. However, when we did actually return to school in person, our efforts were nearly tripled in order to carry out a successful food drive!

We began by splitting into groups to get the logistics in order at first. My group was in charge of creating the posters for the food drive on Canva, which also meant that we needed to decided which grade was bringing in which foods. Naturally this was somewhat difficult as we had to figure out which grade to assign each item to and we had to decide on what rations were most needed. In the end we ended up deciding on items ranging from oil to rice, tea leaves and dhal among other basic supplies after which, myself and a few others stayed behind  to go around the school in order to post a few flyers and posters out in a place where they would be visible. During these few sessions we also took some time to write to the school newsletter in order to enquire about the possibility of us announcing it on the daily bulletin which worked out in our favor. I was genuinely impressed with our work ethic because we happened to be one of the only still functioning services at the school at the time.

After a few months came time for collecting the rations. I spent multiple breaks, lunches and minutes after school making trips around both the primary and secondary campuses to collect what the students, parents and teachers had brought in. I am happy to say that we were very pleasantly surprised at how much of a turnout there was despite us having just returned to school. So with that we ended up carrying our new supplies all the way back into the sports department to sort our donations out. We sorted, piled, stacked and labelled endlessly till our work was finally done, just in time for us to bid farewell to our seniors as well which was a rather bittersweet in hindsight.

Needless to say it felt like a job well done and I am personally  extremely proud of us for overcoming so much and pushing to our maximum capacity during this time. I have to say in my 2 years in this service this was honestly one of the most rewarding efforts we’ve participated in, and although we don’t get the chance of meeting our friends at the home, there is still a heartfelt sense of accomplishment in knowing that what we did will be making significant changes for these families in time to come.

Like Joseph Kennedy once said,

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

 

^ Putting up the posters around the primary and secondary buildings

^ Our final food drive poster!

^Last day of sorting the rations we received :))

Service Post – Hope for Kids

Hope For Kids Update!

While a lot has changed in the past few weeks from completing online school, to going back face to face for  only to be thrust back into a blindsiding state of  lockdown again, my service group, Hope For Kids has never let ourselves see a dull moment. Instead of complaining about the revocation of our visitation rights to the home (because of safety precautions) we have been spending even more hours working at various projects that had us sacrificing a few lunch hours, Thursday afternoons and other weekdays after school hours to make it all come together.

I feel as though our group has honestly accomplished more this year than I would have ever assumed we would have been able to complete given our inconvenient circumstances, although somehow, in a strange way, I have come to realize that it has given me a one off opportunity to step up to the plate  to genuinely make a contribution to the cause we work to support and to do more than physically spend time with the young cancer patients like we used to do when Covid was not an issue. Even more excitingly, it has given me a perfect opportunity to step up into taking some initiative in the leadership area.

Many changes were made starting with some basic housekeeping at first. We decided that it was high time we made some updates to some of our archives. Namely, we needed to change the outdated logo which I took upon myself to redo which required me to employ my creativity. While the original logo was simply just an image of a handprint, I felt that it didn’t really show all that much relevance to our cause which is why, after doing some research I found out that the color for child cancer was gold and then decided to make a simple but striking logo which said OSC Hope for Kids at the top with a gold cancer ribbon on a contrasting black background.

Additionally we decided that we needed to make our outreach greater in terms of raising awareness as a service group. We already had a website but it was rather incomplete in terms of the aesthetic value of it which is why I spent majority of our last session trying to help one of my make the necessary changes to the website via Zoom. Naturally this was a lot harder than expected since it was online and also because the previous creators of our website had graduated, hence making it a work in progress for the upcoming weeks.

We also decided to create an Instagram page in order to keep our school community updated on recent happenings within our group as well as it being the perfect opportunity for us to raise some awareness regarding the severity of the issue that is child cancer. During the first few weeks, while others made certain informational posts, I took the time to create a quiz to educate our followers. Using Instagram formatting I was able to post a small informal multiple choice trivia game on our stories to which a pleasantly surprising number of our followers answered.

While the participation was great, it did go to show that quite a few people within our school community were still not all that aware of the statistics or prevalence of childhood cancer, which is why  I have been in talks with Ms. Tanuja (our service teacher), Saesha (the other service leader) and a family friend of mine who has worked closely with the Cancer Hospital for the past few weeks. More specifically, we collectively came to a conclusion that it was important to make people, especially within our school community,  understand the reality of the situation as well as how we can help patients as well as help prevent it so I took it upon myself to reach out to a doctor to get in touch with us and perhaps give us a small virtual session on what I mentioned earlier. In this way we could also record it and share it via our social media while also coming up with more effective fundraising plans. However, there is still somewhat of a difficulty in getting in touch with a doctor during this time because of the peaking of the Covid-19 cases within the country which has left first responders in a bit of a time crunch which we have to be understanding about.  Nonetheless, she has promised to reach out to us the moment her workload diminishes so that we can carry out our meeting.

This has been a great opportunity for me to step up as a leader and also a great reflective period to upgrade and improve what we already had while also being a convenient time for us to plan ahead for the future and next year and the fundraisers we could be carrying out then!

^My story awareness project for our Instagram followers

^ The new Hope for Kids logo, which I designed earlier this year

^ Previous Hope for Kids logo

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

Making Desserts

I might just be competent enough to cook…

A few months ago around Christmas time, I took on a few challenges to learn how to make certain dishes, i.e. make cookies, bake some bread people, and even make some homemade ice cream. At the time however, I could by no means be left unsupervised in the kitchen out of fear for everything getting burned to a crisp or having the risk of having recipe going terribly wrong, but here I am 3 months later having grown significantly in my cooking abilities after many hours of practice and last but not least, episodes of My Kitchen Rules  Oh… and I can be left to make things on my own now… 😭

Over the past few months I’ve tried to do my best to be helpful around the kitchen, whether that was for making dinner with my mom or making desserts for birthdays of family members and friends. Over these few weeks I have successfully mastered the art of cake making, churro making and tiramisu and chocolate biscuit pudding making. (I am pleased to confirm that the tiramisu and churros with chocolate sauce have become high in demand).

So how did I go from incapable of being unsupervised in the kitchen to Nigella Lawson the next day ?(that was a quite and awful comparison, my bad, Nigella is the queen of the culinary world and I could never possibly measure up to her). Well, in reality I really owe it to my mom who has a tireless way of looking up random recipes that catch her eye and then pulling out all stops with it with her own unique additions. The first few times around I just observed how she did things in the kitchen being allowed to occasionally stir and mix things, but soon it became a scenario while I did most the work with her giving me some life changing advice in the midst.

And so it became that I learned make my own recipes which caught my eye, helped make Grandpa’s birthday cake and even made 2 dishes of pineapple gateau  and 2 chocolate biscuit pudding dishes for a family function . The highlight for me, personally was also being able to make churros and dip all by myself, and I was elated seeing how quickly the plate finished.

Now naturally, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, for instance, this one time I dropped a piping bag into hot oil containing churro batter (oops), but I learned to adopt new techniques and improvise. No matter how slow or fast the progress, I am happy knowing for a fact that this is going to be useful to me in college when I am expected to cook for myself, so I’m really glad I’m getting the practice now. As for the future, I would really like to learn how to make more savory dishes because that would probably come even more in handy, it’s always the effort that counts!

Here are a few of the desserts I made with minimal assistance:

^ chocolate cake for my grandma’s birthday

^ pineapple gateau!

 

Overlay Effect Practice

Continued Experimentation on VideoPad and Filmora 9 Pro

Hey, here’s an update on what I’ve been up to in my process of learning how to edit using Filmora 9 Pro and VideoPad for my video edit account.

General Update

The last few months have been a bit hectic in the editing scene, especially in terms of how much free time and inspiration I had which honestly wasn’t too much. On top of that Instagram introduced a new algorithm which limit’s an editor’s reach, for example, likes no longer matter and for more people to see your posts, more people have to save and share them. This can obviously be a bit disheartening considering that we put hours of our time into making videos that get under 500 views, which explains why my archives have more content than my actual feed, since how much your edit succeeds is pretty random. On the brighter side however, there have also been certain positive outcomes! For example, I just hit 1,266 followers and I had a video of mine pass 4k views! And as the icing on the cake… I got recognized by 3 players, two of who I look up to immensely and my favorite club, Manchester United WFC!!!

The players were Manchester United and the Spanish National team’s Ona Batlle, the USWNT and Arsenal veteran Heather O’Reilly and Sky Blue FC’s  Paige Monaghan. In all honesty, I didn’t know much about Monaghan  since  I didn’t keep up with the NWSL anymore, but I do hugely look up to Ona and Heather. While Ona is  one of the most skilled defenders in the league with amazing achievements in both in the FA and international games, Heather O’Reilly is one of my all time favorite veteran USWNT players who also played with Arsenal till her retirement in 2016. Which… come to think of it means she also shared the pitch with some of women’s soccer’s most iconic names like Abby Wambach and Shannon Boxx. Either way, she has somewhat of a legendary status in women’s football so I certainly found myself a bit stars truck that she knew my name.

 

Editing Practice

And now for the actual editing…

While I usually prefer to use only one software since it conserves a lot of time, I also know that using both to create an edit creates a much more sophisticated looking end product. I may have a decent following on my edit as of right now, but I am physically a long way away from the kind of editor I aspire to be. This takes days and days of practice especially when it comes to learning new transitions, overlays, effects and colorings etc. in order to produce smooth and creative posts. While in my previous blogs I looked at coloring and the velocity features, these past few months I have been trying to improve my use of the overlay effects.

Usually, any editing software has certain premade features which can be added on top of your regular timeline to create additional effect such as glow or grain, or even in Filmora’s case, certain color gradients.

So what would happen is that I would crop and add transitions to my regular video, but then drag in a gradient overlay say, for example the red one. I would then go to the tab called composting, choose a blending mode, such as lighten and then adjust the opacity in a way that you could still see the video beneath it, only now it would be tinted red. This way I could add multiple tints to my videos so that the coloring could change on beat, which gives a cool effect.

As a an experimentation edit (which I later ended up posting), I made video of the 2019 world cup. I had previously made the sequence on VideoPad and added the old film and glow effect to give it a signature black and white film look and used velocity to slow down and speed down certain parts that focus on skill moves. After exporting my clips, I then opened Filmora, changed the aspect ratio and began adding my overlays. At first I added the chromatic abrasion feature which separates the color spectrum and does so on beat,  that can only be used in small amounts. As for the color gradients, I then proceeded to add blue red and white blank overlays, I chose darken as the blending mode and reduced the opacity.

Here are some screenshot of the final outcomes – (white didn’t make that much of a difference since that was the edit’s original color anyways):

Final edit snapshots:

Link to edit (you might want to watch this in HD and in the picture in picture setting) : 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zSuP10RYkFFegy0_sNqcGWkaH4cNI4nH/view?usp=sharing

 

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

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