BEND IT LIKE A TRADITION

BY Julian Yap Joe Nin

Rookie Yap leads his brain to a 1-0 victory over writer’s block

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That was my mind game story.

Now, here’s the REAL story.

Picture this.

It’s a Wednesday night.

The sky was dark and gloomy. It was cold, maybe around 14-15 degrees Celsius (°c).

Or as the Americans like to call it, 57-58 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) – still don’t get it.

I lit my favourite ‘Levitate’ candle on my bedside table, that gave off a ‘Sandalwood’ scent.

What does that smell like?

A clean beach. Crystal clear waters. White sand – full of peace and serenity with a touch of luxury to it.

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Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton starring as lead roles in Something’s Gotta Give // Locations Hub 

Recall the beach house in the Hamptons in 2004’s ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton?

That’s EXACTLY what I was going for.

It remains as one of my all-time favourite films and still one of my parents’ regular go-to films when my sister, Celine and I have a movie night with them.

I climbed into my fresh sheets, dressed in my comfortable, favourite ‘Peter Alexander’ pyjama top, which says ‘Well Trained’ on it (clearly am) and my ‘David Gandy For Autograph’ pyjama bottoms in a houndstooth print.

My apartment was dim.

The only source of light was the lamp on my bedside table that was lit up.

Sounds like a romantic set-up doesn’t it?

I assure you I had no one over and was all by myself that night.

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Cameron Diaz as ‘Amanda Woods’ in The Holiday // Media Giphy

I laid my head with wet hair on both a white cushion and a blue pillow that had prints on it, deep in my thoughts.

My mind went back and forth. It was going nowhere.

I let out a big sigh, I started to hear echoes of my own voice circling my empty studio apartment.

I had a case of writer’s block. I did not know what to write for my blog, ‘The Game Changer’ this week.

I was frustrated.

Like I was ill and I had to run out to the grocery store because I had NOTHING in the fridge (very rare case).

Even, takeaway seemed like effort.

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// Meme Center

That’s how annoyed at myself I was.

I decided to call it a day.

I fired up my space grey coloured, 13’’ inch MacBook Pro and went on YouTube.

I scrolled down and YouTube recommended me to watch videos posted by the Oscars.

It’s no secret if you asked ANY of my friends or family that I have always loved the Academy Awards.

Just one weekend ago, a bunch of us were at my best friends’ house watching the red-carpet arrivals on E! and this awards show on ABC.

A big shoutout to Kate and Melanie for being such brilliant hosts. I came famished and left beyond full that evening.

I watched Penelope Cruz win for Best Supporting Actress for her role in ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ back in 2009.

Other than how beautiful she was that night and just in general (‘beautiful’ really is an understatement), her acceptance speech really stuck out to me.

Particularly, this line.

“I always felt that this ceremony was a moment of unity for the world because art, in any form, has been and always will be our universal language. And we should do everything we can to protect its survival” – Penelope Cruz

That was so brilliant.

And then, I moved onto watching Nicole Kidman win Best Actress for her leading role in ‘The Hours’ in 2008.

Love the ‘Autoplay’ feature on YouTube. I blame it for all the times I have procrastinated.

She had something similar to say to Cruz, which I held onto dearly as well.

Art is important. And because you believe in what you do and you want to honour that. And it is a tradition that needs to be upheld – Nicole Kidman

After these two videos, a MAJOR thought struck me.

This was not an unproductive night at all. I got it!

Sports works just like any film out there. It does not only refer to films that have been nominated in the Oscars.

Sports is a tradition.

It brings people together.

It is a moment of unity.

It reminded me of my father – being asleep in my own bedroom and still being able to hear him watching and cheering his favourite football team, Manchester United play downstairs in the TV room past midnight.

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Dad and I back at my graduation from The University of Kent, Canterbury

It was always either a late night on Saturday or Sunday.

If I heard a scream or multiple screams, which were always LOUD – Man U did well!

If I did not hear anything or maybe, that I am just sound asleep, they may have lost.

But, nothing is confirmed until the next morning.

I would come down for breakfast, pick up the ‘Star Newspaper’ sitting by itself on the black leather sofa in our living room, and scroll to the very last page of the paper – the sports section 

The scores and headlines were EVERYTHING and it was always what started our conversations between my dad and I.

Football was more than just a tradition.

The sport itself was a ritual in my family.

I may not have the most knowledge about football and everything that’s going on within the sport.

But, it was a form of bonding for my dad and I or in fact, for all four of us since my sister and mum would occasionally join in the conversation.

Football is and will always be one of our universal languages.

For example, my father and I would always talk about the highlights of the game and who the star players were of the night or even, the slip-ups and who underperformed that night if the team lost.

Not forgetting that, Wayne Rooney was always my dad’s boy.

Still is. My dad loves him!

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Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney // ESPN FC

These are moments within our family that I would never forget. EVER.

Sending my love out to you all.

Though, let’s be serious.

You can’t really talk about football without mentioning the football prodigy, the man himself – Mr. David Beckham.

Aside from having played in the same team with Rooney, both have one thing in common – they were the most red carded players for England, having been sent off the field twice.

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David Beckham in Sydney, Australia // AP

But, that’s not why I brought Beckham’s name into this conversation.

For Beckham, football was a daily ritual to him, making him a household name in the history of the sport.

Growing up as a kid in East London, he would stay up during the night, climb through a hole in a fence at the back alley to practice his shots with boys from the neighbourhood.

His father, David Edward Alan “Ted” Beckham, was a kitchen gas fitter.

His mother, Sandra Georgina, was a hairdresser.

Both of them were avid fans and supporters of Manchester United who would regularly travel up to Old Trafford from London to attend the team’s home football matches.

Beckham inherited his parents’ love for Manchester United and all he wanted to do since then was to eat, breathe, dream and play football.

He regularly tagged along his father to every match that the old man played himself and always received a new Man U uniform from him every Christmas.

Back then, Beckham’s mother may have had a soft hand towards her son. But not his father, who tirelessly criticised Beckham until he perfected his football skills.

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David Beckham with Manchester United in 2003 // Getty Images in The New York Times 

And then, the unimaginable thing happened – he got spotted by a scout from Manchester United at the age of 11.

It may have seemed odd at first that the team wanted him because of his small size but, it was his foot, his natural gift to strike a ball, to bend that caught the club’s attention.

Beckham’s rise to the top was slow but, how he wanted people to see him was more than just being a major international football star and prodigy.

“I just want people to see me as a hardworking footballer, someone that’s passionate about the game and everytime I stepped on the pitch I have everything I have,’’ – David Beckham said in an interview.

Beckham may not be the most gifted footballer ever born.

I can name a few who are.

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Manchester United’s Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs // The Times

Ryan Giggs. He is much swifter. Much more graceful on the ball.

Paul Scholes is a genius. A football mastermind with the rare ability to make important decisions for the whole team – a skill, often underestimated in the sport.

It was a whole different ball game with Beckham.

To me, it is his raw humbleness, along with this obsessive training work ethic, instilled in him by his father and Manchester United’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson, that made him a force to be reckoned with on the football pitch.

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Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham in support of UNICEF #LoveOfTheGame #matchforchildren // David Beckham Instagram

The countless number of hours Beckham spent on the training field day by day practicing those dangerous bending, dipping and arching free kicks.

His stamina.

That determination.

The willingness to run until it hurt but he’d try to run some more until he couldn’t.

The rest of it was just history.

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David Beckham // Getty Images

Beckham is a winner.

All of this boiled down to one thing – his persistence of holding onto that one ‘big’ dream and keeping that daily tradition of practicing the sport until those skills were mastered alive to become the success story that he is today.

Cheers.

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