Wouldn’t be it great if Stoke make it three wins on the trot tonight against Everton? Stoke at home have always been a dominating force, even against some of the world’s best football teams. I think that is a valuable tool for mental preparation for both teams. I have always felt that Stoke emerge from the tunnel at the Britannia with a physical and psychological advantage, which is always noticed by everyone I bring to a game, leaving them feeling very ‘pumped’. It is hard to ignore the fantastic atmosphere that is synonymous with Stoke City’s loyal fans. Long may it continue!
A Tale Of Two Goalkeepers
This Wednesday the 11th of March, here at the Britannia, the Tony Waddington suite will host a rare goalkeeping event aptly named ‘An Evening With Banks & Begovic’. It will be a fantastic opportunity for Asmir and the famous Gordon Banks, to share with fans their lives as successful goalkeepers who have experienced the very top of the game, including World Cup’s. Asmir is truly flattered to be included in an event alongside Gordon, who he grew up within his sport admiring as one if his goalkeeping inspirations. Whilst writing this column, Asmir recalled the moment, when he was very young and living in Germany, of being told about Gordon Banks as his dad regaled the story of one of the finest goalkeepers in the sports history. So for Asmir, it is truly an honour to be able to share the stage with one of his idols. I am sure Asmir will have as many questions for Gordon as the audience in attendance does.
I can really relate to this experience for Asmir as I am in a similar situation. As many regular readers of my column will know, I am based and train full time with my mentor and trainer Richard Davison. He is one of Dressage’s most successful, influential and well-respected individuals. I have not only participated in Dressage, but have always been a huge fan of my sport and followed Richard and his horse’s successes with great interest. So to find myself now working with him on a daily basis is an amazing opportunity, and sometimes a surreal one, that I do not take for granted. During the first few years of first team football, Asmir used to remark about how unbelievable it was to come home, having played in a match against world famous players that he grew up watching as a boy, having now found himself on the same pitch as them.
I believe that in sport when you find a mentor or coach you connect with, you become a sort of ‘heir’ to their priceless knowledge. The student develops into the platform for which to carry on their philosophies and invaluable wisdom gained through their mentors careers and experiences, that I hope to share someday, perhaps in the future, with a student of my own. I am sure the same can be said for Asmir who has had the opportunity to work with some incredibly talented and successful goalkeeping coaches, one of note, his current coach, Andy Quy.
Well I can’t believe that I have reached a point in my career where serious discussions have now begun regarding which International shows I will be attending this year. It is a momentous moment for not just myself, but for Asmir and my family who have been fantastic supporters throughout my life’s preoccupation with horses, along with my Olympic dreams! This is a far cry from when I rode my first low-level affiliated Dressage test just a few short years ago. Now I am preparing myself, and my horse Foxy, for our International debut. I can barely believe it and you can imagine it is a dream come true. I hope that this is the start of an exciting International career that I can take to the very top levels of our sport. The official paperwork has been filed and I will now officially represent Great Britain (que the ‘Rule Britannia’ chorus playing in my head!). It is an honour and privilege to represent my country, as Great Britain has produced some of the best horses and riders in the history of the sport.
I look forward to keeping you posted on my journey. Now Asmir and I are tasked with balancing life with two International athletes under one roof. Certainly will provide plenty of conversation and keep things fun and interesting.