I’m sitting on a runway with nervous excitement as I embark on a short but hopefully sweet trip to Switzerland, the home of a new and exciting sport – Street Racket. I’m going to meet the man behind its creation, watch it be taught in schools and then receive training on how to play it and teach it.
This is all courtesy of NET 360 CIC, the community-based non-profit, who are trusting me to return with the knowledge and skills that will allow us to grow Street Racket in the North East. I’ll be introducing this fun, versatile new sport to our local schools and communities.
Rewind to just over three months ago and I was rock bottom. Juggling a family and career was taking its toll; long hours, relentless pressure and absolutely no work/life balance. It was crippling me mentally and physically and having a negative impact on my family too.
One morning I woke up to my son’s alarm going off (he set it each morning so he could say goodbye to me before I left to go to work), and that was the moment I decided, “Life is just too short. I need to spend time with my family and friends and be happy again.”
Over the last couple of years my children have been attending NET 360’s junior coaching programme at Beverley Park Tennis Club. I had got to know the coaches well. Sport is a great passion of mine and for a couple of years I have been coaching a junior athletics team as a volunteer on a Friday evening. Then an opportunity arose at NET 360 for a coach. With all my skills and life experience the role quickly evolved into one that encompassed all my passions: working with children, communication and sport. It ticked all of my boxes:
• an environment conducive to a work/life balance
• the flexibility that allows me to be there for my family
• some time for me.
As I write this I could pinch myself. How lucky that this opportunity came my way just at the right time. I have grappled with so much guilt and self doubt over what I thought I had thrown away, but none of it has been wasted.
I get to work with children of all ages, making a difference and promoting mental health and well-being through sport. That is something that is even more important for young people after the past few years.
I heard on the radio recently; gone are the days when people got on the career treadmill and climbed the corporate ladder whilst working themselves into the ground until retirement. Now people are choosing life and happiness and finding a balance we once thought was so hard to achieve, maybe having three or four different careers in their lifetime. How fantastic!
‘Anyone, anytime, anywhere’ is the Street Racket slogan and it occurred to me that this sums up how life can suddenly take you on a different track, or in my case, court!
If you’re not happy, be brave and take a leap. It might just turn out to be a flippin’ brilliant one! And if it isn’t, that’s ok, just take another one.
If you are interested in joining the NET 360 team contact us at Hiring@NET360CIC.uk
Emily James, NET 360 CIC coach and Schools Engagement Officer.