Dressage Dreams and a Goalkeeper’s Regime - Part 10

Well it has certainly been an interesting time for Asmir and our family over Christmas to say the least. Little did we know that on Christmas Day evening, that I would receive a picture message from Asmir, simply displaying a heavily bandaged left hand. Alarms bells rang in my head and I knew instantly that it couldn’t be good. Seeing a goalkeeper’s hand injured is quite an uncomfortable and upsetting experience, as these are their most valuable assets for their particular job. An X-Ray on Boxing Day revealed the break in his little finger that would normally seem small and insignificant, however that break has now influenced a major schedule change for Asmir for the next two months.

Occupational Hazard

Footballer’s, along with most professional sports athletes, battle daily to avoid injury which is a constant threat to their ability to do their job. I face the same risk everyday I ride, as horses are huge and powerful animals with a mind of their own, and I cannot always predict what they are thinking and feeling. Managing a horse and its mind is one of the biggest challenges within the sport of Equestrian. This also has to be balanced with keeping the horses themselves fit and healthy. I myself have suffered from particularly unpleasant riding injuries in the past, and this is what I would describe as an “Occupational Hazard”. The physical demands of a professional footballer over the past few decades have evolved. They are now finely tuned athletes that are trained to their full maximum human ability, which as a result has made the sport physically more challenging therefore heightening the risk of injury. 

Like buses, injuries at clubs can come along all at once-as Stoke will only know too well at the moment. The ‘injured list’ has steadily grown with the addition of Robert Huth, Thomas Sorensen, Andy Wilkinson and Asmir all sustaining injuries in the same period of time. The timing of these injuries happened over arguably the busiest time of the season, which is unfortunate, but it is good to know that everyone is now on the road to recovery with daily rehabilitation in training. 

Being On the Injured List

For Asmir, like with most professional athletes, sitting on the sideline can be a difficult and frustrating time. The regular routine for training and games is suspended and replaced with an alternative schedule. Footballer’s that are injured generally do not have an ‘easier’ time by any means, they are often earliest in the morning for physical rehab and injury specific training and there are no days off. When the playing squad are having a day off, the injured guys are still making their way to the training ground. It means that it is a big dedication by the Stoke City staff too as they will be in seven days a week to manage these finely tuned athletes. It is the crucial support and knowledge of the players’ staff that must be recognised for their very important roles within clubs from the doctors, physio’s, and fitness coaches to the chef’s ensuring the players diet is balanced, healthily and inclusive of essential nutrients. We are very fortunate to have a personal chef, Shokri from www.chefinmykitchen.co.uk, who recently started working at our home and prepares the healthiest and most delicious meals. I didn’t appreciate how much care and attention Asmir and I should be putting into out meals at home as athletes. Normally I am so busy that I am guilty of skipping the odd meal or eating whatever was to hand but now I am feeling much better with a well balanced diet.

Asmir has coped very well with his injury and is very optimistic for his recovery. It is important that he listens to and heed’s the advice of the specialist support staff around him and what his body is saying to him during the recovery process. It was a very trying time for Asmir to be injured the day before the busy Christmas fixtures commenced. It is hard for any player to have to sit and watch his team play without them. Asmir said it is a very helpless feeling when you are watching your teammates battle for three points- and you can only sit and watch. For Asmir he has to adapt quickly to a big change in his schedule and that can be trying for someone who is incredibly routine. 

The focus now for Asmir is to heal and get back into the goal when the time is right. There are plenty of important games coming up for Stoke this year and the World Cup this summer. Asmir has decided to capitalise on some time off the pitch by adding more presswork to his CV. He has enjoyed being an analyst on television and radio including stepping outside of football, crossing the Atlantic pond and talking about his other passion- American sport. 

As for me, my horse and I are embarking on preparing for our competition season to commence. We have started working on new and exciting things in the arena, and with anything in life that’s new, patience and time is key! Although I sometimes struggle with the patience element, something Asmir is very good at. He has always maintained a very level head and approach to his career and in life. Maybe I should take notes from him- but shhhhhh don’t tell him that, as I always argue that I’m right!

Nicolle x