The effect of sporting injuries on mental health

On the 20th of November the Keele’s women’s rugby team, including myself, jumped on the coach and headed to Preston to play the UCLAN team in the cup. It is fair to say that we were all a bit on edge prior to the game because when we played them in the cup the year before we were completely thrashed only managing to score one try – actually by my hands (the only one I scored all season). UCLAN was also an important game for us as a team because it’s where we picked up our fantastic coach Mike as he happened to be refereeing and saw in us a diamond in the rough. A year on, and after Mike’s careful guidance a regenerated team headed to UCLAN’s sports with a little bit of daring hope and the opportunity to make him proud. 

Women Playing Rugby

Rugby, like any sport, has its risks and as athletes that is something we have to weigh up within ourselves to decide whether or not it’s worth it. I would assume that for many, like myself, the risk is completely and utterly outweighed by the love we each hold for our sports. I was fully aware of the risk I faced when I stepped out onto the field 40 minutes into the game with Keele in the lead (and Mike feeling very proud). I assumed that the UCLAN cup game would be like the several others I had played before it – sadly I was wrong. After having been on the pitch for what could have only been 15 minutes I dislocated my knee, and not that I knew it at the time, snapped my ACL. 

At the time of the injury all I could think about was the pain surging through my knee not the affect it could have months down the line. After hours of waiting in A&E it was only when I returned home that I realised the real waiting was about to begin. It was two long weeks before I was informed that I had snapped my ACL and that I would have to have reconstructive surgery and that I would be out of sport for at least 9 months. Between you and me I will confess that I got this news sat in a car in a downpour in Morrison’s and sobbed uncontrollably on the phone to my mum to make her worry enough to send my housemate out to get me. 

Since then my little world has been turned upside down. I have been unable to play the sport I love and have had to get to grips with having my knee operated on. However, amongst all of this it has given me time to think about the affect injury can have on individuals that count sport as a large part of their life, and the devastating effect it must have on those who play sport professionally. 

The last few weeks for me have been utterly miserable and while everyone around me has tried their utmost to make sure that I am happy and content I am struggling to keep my spirits up and be positive. Not being able to continue a sport that I have found a love for is undeniably hard and has had a massive effect on my mental health. 

Suffering this slight back step in my life however has led me to believe that everyone, myself included, should give themselves a break when it comes to setbacks in their life. We should all allow ourselves time to mourn things we’ve lost, and most importantly we should not be so hard on ourselves when it comes to any form of recovery because as humans we all take a little bit of time to heal both on the outside and indeed on the inside. 

Concourse is Keele University’s independent student-run publication and has a long history of promoting student journalism. Having been established in 1964, Concourse has become an important part of the university and has been read by generations of Keelites.

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