It doesn’t matter what sport you’re into, there’s no denying that it is both fun to participate in and to spectate. After recently prepping to be an event guest speaker back in Ireland at the Oysterhaven Centre, it left me thinking what function does sport play in the wider world beyond this?
To provide you with a little more background on The Oysterhaven Centre, they are one of the largest, most established watersports centers in Ireland. For over 30 years, they have taught sailing, windsurfing, kayaking and standup paddle-boarding to hundred’s of thousands of budding watersports enthusiasts.
The event was staged at the historic Custom House in The Port Of Cork with the striking 20-meter schooner ‘Spirit Of Oysterhaven’ moored right outside. The audience included the Oysterhaven staff, trainee instructors, local media and representatives from the ISA and RNLI.
The view from Dan’s home growing up in Ireland
Within the audience there were also many of the 23 teenaged crew of ‘The Astrid’, a training tall ship, which ran aground and sank just outside of the bay last year. The crew had recently reunited, sailed aboard the Spirit of Oysterhaven and made a truly fantastic multimedia presentation on their experiences.
The Spirit of Oysterhaven
For the event, I was asked to speak broadly about how my own experiences and the professional skills I had acquired teaching watersports at the Centre for over 10 years had helped to develop my career within the sports industry. As the Oysterhaven Centre played such a large part of my youth, I was only too aware and appreciative of the positive influence of sports.
Dan directing on set with the product designers from DEFLEXION
After some reflection, I managed to sum up how both participating in and teaching sports had helped me and presented on four key topics:
Health and fitness – You can always go to the gym to keep fit but that always seemed a bit like fitness for fitness sake to me. Doing most sports adds a competitive element. The outdoors, the sea, the mountains; for me, it’s about getting fit and enjoying doing it. It’s also a huge part of mental health. A good hour of surfing or windsurfing completely clears my mind. It’s therapeutic and cathartic and it’ much cheaper than a psychiatrist.
Dan’s travels in Peru, The Cape Verde Islands and Morocco
Travel – More than any other sport, windsurfing has allowed me to travel the world. Competitions are always a natural incentive to travel and there’s always a good reason to book a plane ticket to warmer waves in the winter. Sports broaden horizons and allow us to experience other cultures. It’s always great to come home but it’s never long until I’ve got the itch to go somewhere new and exciting again.
More travels to South Africa, Mexico and Australia
Professional skills – Both teaching and competing in sports teach you a broad range of professional skills from proper preparation through to public speaking, sports helps to build self-confidence and prepares you for the work place.
Friends for life – Many of the friends that I grew up with teaching at the Oysterhaven Centre are still some of my closest friends now. Having a shared passion is a great way to build life-long friendships.
Dan with the original Oysterhaven crew in 2012
All in all, I’m very grateful for the years that I spent teaching watersports. All those cold rainy days spent waist deep in the ocean were some use after all!