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PAT BALDWIN: It’s just like watching Brazil – and Grecians will be playing there

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 18, 2013

The Pat Baldwin column

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After last week’s disappointing defeat at home to Hartlepool, all the lads came in on Monday determined to work hard and put the result behind us. That is all you can do, not just in football but in life as well.

Our mantra at the club is not to get too carried away when you are winning – and equally, not get too down when you lose. It is very important not to dwell too much on the past and this week’s training has been very positive.

The week was broken up with the England game on Tuesday and I had a few reasons to watch with eager eyes.

Firstly, the obvious reason being that I am very patriotic. I am English and want to be watching my country play in the biggest football tournament on the planet.

The chances of me ever playing in a World Cup have pretty much passed me by now so the next best thing is to watch it as a fan. My biggest memories of watching football growing up is of World Cups and the great atmosphere.

The fact it is being held in Brazil is very exciting, too. Being an England fan has not exactly been fruitful in terms of winning things in my lifetime so my second favourite team has always been Brazil.

There is something about their flamboyance and exuberance that makes them so attractive to watch. The Brazilians seem to play with such freedom and enjoyment.

I grew up watching the World Cup-winning team of 1994 with the likes of Romario, Bebeto, Dunga and a 17-year-old Ronaldo on the bench.

My main memory was Bebeto’s baby-cradling celebration and then going over to the park with my mates replicating it during our own World Cup game. In all honesty, my main memories growing up are of watching World Cups and going to bed with a football dreaming that, one day, I might play in one.

That dream did not quite come to fruition but the next best thing would be to visit Brazil and play out there.

What an amazing opportunity it is that we will be going over to play Fluminense. It is something I am very much looking forward to, as I am sure anyone who gets the chance to go will be too.

Another reason I was watching England’s game so intently was the fact I had to write a match report straight after the game and get it sent off within an hour of it finishing.

I have enrolled on a degree course this year in preparation for the eventual end of my career. It is called “Sports Writing and Broadcasting” and it is a course I have found very relevant to my life.

The course is run through our football union, the PFA, and it has been tailor-made to fit around any playing commitments I have, so as to not interrupt my job.

Planning for the future is something I have been thinking about for many years, having already seen a number of close friends finish their careers in football and end up either divorced, bankrupt or depressed, and having nothing to fall back on.

According to sporting charity Xpro, as many as three in five ex-Premier League footballers end up bankrupt within five years of retiring and something like one in three end up divorced. These are astounding figures.

The PFA is there to help with courses but it is down to us as individuals to make the most of the help. As a young professional, the last thing you think about is the future. You think you are going to be playing football for the rest of your life but the older you get, the more aware you are that it does not last forever.

I supported a very close friend of mine, an ex-player, through a very difficult period in his life and it made me sit up and take note. I am determined not to become another football statistic and so, as a result, I went back to school a couple of years ago and sat my A Levels and have now progressed on to a degree course.

If you had told me a few years ago that I would be writing a match report and studying Law in Journalism I would have said you were barking mad but it means my transition between retirement from the game and my next career is made a lot easier.

Certainly, I have a new-found respect for journalists and their time constraints.

Let us hope we have created some positive content for anyone writing about us come the final whistle today.

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