A little flutter now and then might be good for the soul…..

January 8, 2015

A little flutter now and then might be good for the soul?

We never expected that! What your favourite sports stars enjoy doing outside the game.Even in an age where sports stars are constantly photographed, interviewed and stalked by paparazzi; it can sometimes be easy to forget that your icons exist outside the pitch. However, even a quick look at player interviews shows that many have fascinating pastimes. Take the example of local star, Jaco van Tonder, currently with the Sharks, who spoke to us about his love of golf which, though not a high intensity sport, is known to boost balance and mental agility.

Although you might imagine that its the players with no outside interests who are able to commit to heavy training and thrive, a lot of evidence shows this isn’t the case. In fact many “extra-curricular” activities can have valuable spillovers to sport. In fact look through the profiles of Western Province players reveals a diverse range of interests – from golf and Xbox to scuba diving.

In our series of player interviews, the 3rd degree, we’ve asked many of our players to open up about their interests outside the game. Paul Schoeman, of Eastern Province Kings revealed he is a keen hunter and online gamer, while Barend Herbst spends his downtime helping his local church. Xbox and PlayStation gaming were also frequent responses, suggesting these professional sportsmen aren’t too different from the rest of us.

Of course a potentially beneficial hobby doesn’t need to involve more exercise – pro sportsmen get quite a bit of that already! Mental games like chess stimulate areas of the brain associated with memory, logic and geometrical reasoning; and can help players make quicker and more efficient decisions regarding space and movement. It may seem a bit pie in the sky, but even former England coach Sir Clive Woodward has signed on, stressing that top level rugby players “need to think” and that much of the game is mental.

One particular pastime has come under a lot of scrutiny, and not just in rugby union – gambling. All rugby players are, of course, legally prevented from betting on their own sport but many have turned to Poker as an alternative. Rugby Union players that have expressed an interest in the game include Mike Tindall – who came 3rd in the British Open Poker Championship.

Sadly, rugby authorities have failed to embrace the positive aspects of Poker, even asking Australian League side Sydney Roosters to drop a sponsorship deal with a Poker site. Rugby players, or anyone else, based in South Africa may find it hard to find a good game online – but Springbok offers hundreds of Poker games running 24/7!

Hobbies not only enrich people’s lives – they can be the source of new skills and abilities you didn’t even know you were building. Pro sportsmen, believe it or not, enjoy the same range of whacky interests as the rest of us, something to be strongly encouraged!

Of course we at Union Sports Mag hope that if you like a little flutter now and then, that you do it responsibly!!

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