Pulling The Flag

What makes a GB player?

Even at amateur level, it can be important to get used to being interviewed. April Heath sat down with some GB candidates last month. Here’s what she learned…

Cover pic by Jimmy Thomson

To mark the last of the GB Flag Football trials, head coach Andrew Gambrill kindly asked if I would attend the event to ask the players a few questions on camera.

It was a bit like interview training or – as I much prefer – April Heath’s Saturday Flag Football Fever.

I eagerly – and optimistically – collated 20 different questions, of which only roughly 10 were used. I asked five to each player who was willing to participate.

The results were quite inspiring and made me think about the value of simply listening to your team-mates or players; understanding what draws them to the sport; and, perhaps, what can be learnt from one other.

One of the questions that I liked to ask the majority of the girls was: “What advice would you give to someone who would like to try out for the GB Flag Football next year?”. Now, of course, these girls had made it this far and, hence, they must be doing something right.

Anonymously, the girls suggested that you should expose yourself to as much flag football as possible, both within training but also by attending annual flag tournaments such as Opal or the Summer Series.

One player also mentioned the importance of believing in yourself. This reminded me of when I started the sport. I remember a coach said to me, after I was frustrated that I didn’t catch a ball: “Don’t count the balls you drop, but instead count the balls you catch”. Even if you are new to the sport or a veteran, having the faith that you will succeed – or reminding yourself of the things you have achieved – will inevitably propel you further in whatever you do.

Another player, in answer to the same questions, said: “Just have fun”. It’s a simple answer, but it holds a lot of truth.

I think in some respects it goes hand in hand with the previous answer. When you begin to get more serious about a sport, more competitive and perhaps more accomplished, sometimes you forget to have fun. Enjoying a sport, whilst maintaining the same drive and focus, could relieve some of the pressure that you put upon yourself to win and constantly succeed.

Another question which I seemed to gravitate towards as an interviewer was: “What makes a GB athlete?”

I thought that perhaps the physical side would take precedence here, but the girls instead focused on the idea that you need the combination of physical stamina, mental strength and general likability to be GB material.

A couple of players mentioned how getting on with people is extremely important. By doing so you can support the team mentally, and are more able to keep your head held high and maintain team morale when the game is not going your way. It was refreshing to hear this from such elite athletes.

To sum up, then, interviewing your team or your team-mates not only prepares them to talk about the sport in an interview style – perhaps to enhance media coverage – but additionally puts you in a position of listener.

It allows you the opportunity to sit back and listen to what your team-mates think or feel which, ultimately, helps you understand the team better on a more individual level. If filmed, it allows you then to look back on the conversations to see if there are any similarities, perhaps concerns, shared opinions or pieces of advice.

It also encourages the interviewee to give more concise, articulate and better formed responses – as they are constantly, and perhaps fearfully, reminded that the conversation is being watched or could potentially be watched back.

So, why not give it a go?

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