Dressage Dreams and a Goalkeeper’s Regime
By: Nicolle Begovic
As the Premier League season winds down to the final few games, the freedom of a long football free summer beckons, or so it would, if it were not for the one of the greatest shows on Earth this year- the World Cup. The usual break from the pressure of weekly fixtures will be replaced with sustained heightened excitement, anxiety and nerves as my family and I watch Asmir step out on the world’s stage for Bosnia and Herzegovina this summer in Brazil.
Writing this final column of the 2013/2014 season, is a great opportunity for me to reflect on yet another eventful year for Asmir and I, both professionally and personally. Our journey over the last ten months has seen us forge new friendships, build new partnerships and develop and mature as athletes within our respective sports.
A time to reflect……..
The ever increasing commitments to our career’s has meant some serious planning and organisational techniques have had to be adopted and perfected during this past season. For me, it has been a whirlwind 18 months as I progressed from being a novice rider, to riding my first advanced test this year. It was the generous support and patience of my previous trainer, Jane Critchley who facilitated this progression. I still owe Jane a massive thank you for her constant support with my weekly training with Richard Davison, before I eventually moved permanently to his yard seven month’s ago. The transition to Richard’s yard for daily training and mentoring, in preparation for International Dressage competition, was a childhood dream come true. This, to me, is the opportunity of a lifetime and one I am very grateful for.
The chance to watch Richard and his wife Gillian train their incredibly talented Dressage horses daily is fantastic and an incredibly educational experience. It has helped me to not only develop as a rider, but also improve my knowledge further in the care and management of top competition horses. It is my aim, that this time next year, I will be telling you about riding my first Grand Prix and International competition. But for now, I have my sights firmly set on riding Internationally at Small Tour, which is formed by two test level’s, the Prix St George and Intermediate I.
For Asmir, he would say that this has been a good developmental season for both himself and the club. There has been all-round progression, both on and off the pitch, and I know I am looking forward to seeing what height’s this may take Stoke to next year.
So this is it! World Cup fever is reaching new heights in our household as our focus turns to what so far will be Asmir’s biggest ever football experience in his career. Barely hours after the final whistle of the last Premier League game, Asmir will be boarding his flight to Sarajevo to begin preparations. The initial training will happen in Bosnia whilst the country will await confirmation of its final 23-man squad that will travel to Brazil. The anticipation already in Bosnia is incredible and I am sure the supporters will no doubt contribute to the carnival atmosphere that awaits them. Following this preliminary camp, the World Cup squad will travel to St. Louis and Chicago in America to acclimatise and make final preparations in two friendlies, before eventually making the move to their base camp in Brazil.
I will be documenting all my experiences at the World Cup, and I look forward to sharing them with you next season. I must thank Stoke City media department for inviting me to write a column for their programme for which I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am grateful for the opportunities it has afforded me to meet new friends and take part in exciting new projects. I thank all of you that have taken the time to read it as I have very much enjoyed writing every single one and sharing with you my “Dressage Dreams and a Goalkeeper’s regime”. Have a great summer!