The National Anthem and Flags

Ok so, as my last post talked about, this weekend I played one league match and one European match. The Topic of this post relates to something that was stirred in me at the European match that really struck me.

By the way if you are coming here looking for the results of these matches (as mentioned in the last post) then we won the league match 9-5… a nice, important win! However against a strong French side we lost the European intercup match 4-1.

But that is not the point of this post. No! The point of this post focuses around the player introductions and national anthem playing just before the match begun. I am a proud sportsman, and a proud Englishman (British for the olympics), and I will go on record saying that there is nothing wrong, infact there is something beautiful about a unifying, national sporting pride! This is summed up no better than the playing of the national anthem. You have seen it at countless international football, rugby, olympic competitions with a completely unnatural amount of respect shown by opposing fans (staying quiet) and home (in relation to the anthem… away teams also naturally do this with their own anthem) singing heartily along showing their national allegiance in a non-threatening way!

Every time in these big occasions… even as a fan… even in fact as a fan, watching on tv…. the British/English national anthem gives me goosebumps. Maybe it is the fact that representing your country is, in my mind, the pinnacle of sporting achievement. Maybe it is the sheer occasion of knowing that, even though they may not even know it is happening, subconsciously the whole nation is behind you.

However this weekend I stood, part of a German team, in a small hall with less than 100 spectators, respecting the French (away team) national anthem, then listening to <MY> teams national anthem… the German national anthem… I have never really listened to it before, it was not MY nationalitys anthem however that overwhelming wave (and it does come as a wave) of pride/acknowledgement came over me… every hair was standing on end. Nobody was singing along (at risk of embarassing themselves with their voice no doubt) but it was listened to respectfully and that… it appears, is all I need to get the juices flowing.

The buzz of a national anthem is incredible and one of the best feelings that you will ever have your life (even if its not the one you have dreamt of representing)… at least that is my opinion… feel free to jump in with the comments section and share your experiences/feelings on this… I realise some may find national anthems to be divisive and non-inclusive so I welcome that sort of debate too! I will reply as often as my time allows me…

Also if you like this, check out my other posts and feel free to share my pages over any sort of media you like- Facebook, Twitter (however that modern techonological magic works)… and whatever other things young people use these days!

Posted in Germany, Table Tennis | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The derby and European cup in one weekend!

Ok so my German team has had a reasonable if somewhat mixed start to the season 5 matches in, we have won 3 against weaker opposition and lost 2 against stronger oppostition. One of the wins was quite important to get while similarly one of the losses was a little disappointing to not get anything out of.

Personally the start has been a little bit rocky current sitting on 3/10 matches won in singles and 3/5 matches in doubles it is not quite the start I would have hoped for, particularly after so many matches being lost in the 5th set (the last one involving me squandering an 8-1 lead!). It would be nice to blame it on other factors (such as the long travelling, the odd poor playing hall, the dreadful cold weather), which have had an effect but the performances just havent been up to scratch.

Still, it is early in the season and there is room for improvement. And there will few better opportunities to put myself back on track than this coming weekend! 2 home matches, played at reasonable times, in a hall I have played in before, against good opposition, with hopefully big crowds… the stage is set!

Starting on the Saturday evening we have the local derby. Against Rotation Sud Leipzig, I am assured it is always nice to get a win over them. This time though it is even more important. They have strengthened their team from last season and have had an almost identical start to ours. That leaves them as rivals for 3/4/5th position that we are also most likely to be battling for. 4th would consolidate our position in a league set-up which is being altered at the end of the season, while 3rd would leave us a possible chance (albeit a very slim one) of an unlikely promotion. 5th however, would result in possible relegation… so quite a tight and important season!

With Rotation having strengthened their side all through the team, it will likely be a tight match but, despite a bit of bad luck our team is playing well and if I can improve my performances we will become even tougher to beat so I am confident we can get a win in that match.

The 2nd match however, is a completely different story. It is the opening game of the European Inter-cup. Playing against a French National1 side, the win will be very hard to come by. The game has been advertised extensively and the crowd is hoped to be much much bigger than for normal league games so hopefully the pressure can be stacked heavily on the opposing teams shoulders with our team understanding we are the underdogs and being cheered on by a partizan crowd. With the match being moved to a hall that allows more spectators the playing conditions will be different to what we are used but should be much better than usual, which I feel benefits my game a lot so hopefully I can help the team with a big performance!

So there is an update on German league so far, check back here for the result after the weekend. For more information on the club check out

Posted in Germany, Table Tennis | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Film and a song

Ok so it may have been a while since I have put anything on here but I have been quite busy! But I believe this one is worth the wait!

I will start with the slightly less hard-hitting part… the song. Kari Jobe is an artist I have been really fond of for a while. All her songs are heartfelt, open and lovingly reassuring! They are nice and simple musically and her voice suits the acoustic, heartfelt feel (I know I have already used that word but it really is the best way to describe it). So here is the one that has really got to me recently. Ideal for when you need a little pick-me-up this is just fantastic, also I really suggest you explore the rest of her music too as all the rest are equally great! so… enjoy!

Enjoy that? ok, this next bit may be a little less fun (the film I am pointing to- not this blog, this blog is always great!) but it is very worthwhile and incredibly hard-hitting and leaves a lot of time needed to digest and change your perceptions.

The film is called Furious Love. Made by Darren Wilson it truely goes deep into the depths of spiritual darkness and completely shatters the Christian bubble of thought on the spiritual world. uncomfortable to watch yet incredibly compelling, if this film doesnt at least make you think twice and reassess your own belief/thought-structure then there is something wrong with you. While uncomfortable viewing it is also really comforting as it shows the boundless potential God has to work in EVERYONE, it is up to us to be his hands in doing this!

While I must say prior to watching it, I was more looking-forward to watching the new James Bond at the weekend, this film is definitely the most influential in my life (and this is from someone who grew up wanting to be Batman).

So give it a watch, let it transform your mind, and let the world be a better place for it!

Posted in Christian | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Knowing your place in life

Wow! Big topic! Where to start with that one… Well this is something that I am sure I am not alone in seeking, and recently I have been reflecting on this a lot. We are all just characters in the big storybook written before time began by the ultimate, awesome writer. The best story it is impossible to even imagine! So how can I, as a person with free will, follow this path in the way that leads to seeing this great story unfold. Sometimes the signposts lighting that path are incredibly obvious, similarly those signs that cry out DANGER or wrong way are blindingly obvious on the paths that would lead to a not-so-incredible story.

The thing that most springs to mind when I am on this topic is the incredible journey that conspired to bring me to where I am now. A Godly presence has guided me to Lund. When looking at going abroad I found my choices limited, which led me to Sweden originally, then when it came to a masters again doors opened and shut in a rather telling way. The tuition fees of masters in England (and lack of in Sweden), the fact there was a perfect course in a place I had already been made familiar with, the countless revivals of the application when I thought it was dead in the water (and there were MANY). All of these showed me in my heart that this is where I am meant to be to ensure my life is the best story that it could be.

But the question that I have been grappling with is, how can we find the signs that are less obvious? And if we see what we believe to be a sign how can we tell whether it is just a coincidence (as those definitely do happen), or a sign, or an obstacle purposefully put there to be overcome or persevered through?

I have had this best shown to me through finding churches here. Last time I was here I started the Vineyard church in Malmo. There appeared to be more and more barriers being created in the way of attending it (it is important to note the church was a really good one). But these barriers were getting in the way, e.g. only meeting every other Sunday and then these weeks fell on weeks I had to go back to England etc. While a bit of a lesson in putting my priorities in order it was also clear to me that it wasnt supposed to be. This time though it is less obvious…

The church plant is great and going really well, but I was also hoping to supplement that a little more. In looking for that other part I tried another church (with a bigger congregation, more space for worship, deeper messages… everything that a church plant may struggle with providing) but again there are a few barriers being created. However, this time it is not as clear whether I should push through these barriers or accept them and move on.

This is where relationship becomes the key! Build up good, strong, open relationships with Godly people that you know and trust, and that is where you will find the help in working out the difference between coincidences and signs. It is important though that these people are not just yes-men for whatever your idea may be, but would be ok with advising you contrary to how you may be leaning. In talking it through it should become clearer. Also in talking these issues through you actually strengthen these friendships at the same time, win-win!

It is worth pointing out that, while yes it is helpful to have them in around your daily life so they are better placed to understand the situation, probably my most trusted friend for this sort of thing is over 600 miles away!

Posted in Christian | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A nod to some brilliant blogs

Ok so there are some other decent blogs out there almost as good as mine… I suppose. Ok, I accept it, yes, there are actually some great ones that, if you like this one (for some reason), you should definitely check out!

First of all, I have a good friend who has created blog focusing on table tennis from a coaching and sport science basis. This is great if you are looking at ways to improve as a player, as a coach, as a sport scientist, or if you just find it all interesting. Doing analyses of videos, reviews of books, helpful tips and ways to improve, it delivers everything you could need regarding table tennis coaching. As a professional coach, part-time player (and training partner of mine!) and sports science graduate, he knows what he is talking about!

So check it out at


Secondly, my course has its own blog. Including insights from top researchers in the field of sports psychology and up-to-date input from new findings this is great to find out what is hot in the world of European sports psychology. There are some really interesting articles, specifically upon the team-sports dynamic that can have a huge effect on performance.

Find this one at


Thirdly, my old church in Nottingham, Grace Church, has a blog ran by the students at the church. It has some great insights on a wide range of topics in church-life. From worship weekly, where they point out some fantastic new (and some old) Christian music they have stumbled upon, to Theology thursday, where they tackle a few of the deeper more complicated issues surrounding Christianity, there is something for everyone! There are also some more light-hearted posts so its definitely not too heavy going!

So hop on over to

There we go, some great blogs to keep you occupied, however do not forget to keep checking mine every once in a while… maybe when there is nothing left on theirs for you to read!

Posted in Christian, Sport Psychology, Table Tennis | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Skåne is like the North-east!

This is just a quick post on some of the similarities I have drawn between where I am from (Darlington in the north-east of England) and where I am (Lund in Skåne). It is quite interesting how many I have found and it leads me to think that perhaps I have found the right place to be!

  1. It is cold (obvious starter), very windy and rains a lot… while this may come as no surprise for either country the climates of the two areas are probably the most alike out of anywhere in both countries
  2. Lund and Darlington are of a similar size, being around 100-150,000 people
  3. They both have an accent (dialekt) which is laughed at by the rest of the country. the really interesting thing is the stark similarities in the accents. Both tend to elongate the vowels more than is considered normal for the language. Both tend to speak more slowly than is typical for their language. Both have a significant amount of slang words (infact the local newspaper in Sweden, CityLund, actually has a slang word each week for people outside of that area to slowly get a grip of it!)
  4. They are both considered pretty much part of another country. In England and abroad when mentioning where I am from people sometimes will say ¨is that in/near Scotland¨ sometimes mocking but often serious. Similarly, due to its history of flip-flopping between ownerships, people from further north in Sweden will often mock Skåne for being ¨pretty much Danish¨
  5. Both have quite a big footballing presence in the area, but the town itself is very much lacking. In the north-east there is Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, but Darlington football club is… not so good. Similarly Skåne has Malmo IF and Helsinborg IF, two of the top Swedish clubs, however Lund has no real footballing powers.

So there we go, they are not so different after all! If anyone has any questions, comments or further similarities feel free to post them!

Posted in Sweden | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Killing free time and my current song obsession

So, when you are in a new place and in the process of making friends, getting settled, organising everything that needs sorting your time is precious and limited… however after the initial rush, which since I am somewhat of a veteran at this now (or so I like to think), didnt take as long as it might have for other students, things hit a lull! You have made new friends, but not quite got to the stage where you can just go round and annoy them whenever you have nothing to do. Your course hasn’t got to the panicking-to-fit-in-eating stage of workload yet. You are also very careful of double-booking yourself as you don’t want to have to cancel meeting someone and giving them the wrong impression…

Due to all this you get an afternoon, evening, perhaps almost a full day where there is very little you really need to be doing! This, I have found, leads to a lot of youtube searching!… Not looking for anything in particular, you might start with a funny video you know you like, or a song you like but don’t own. From there, you click one of the suggestions down the right hand side, then from there click another suggestion and all of a sudden you find yourself so far down this chain you forget how you got there! For example I started with a Springsteen song and ended up somehow, after about 30 (yes thats thirty!) links down the chain watching an interesting video of someone doing 3 backflips then leaping through a gap you would struggle to climb through!

Anyway that was just a quick explanation of how I found a song which is the reason for this post. Casting Crowns is a Christian band I had vaguely heard of, and through youtube-chaining I came across their song Who am I?

The link to it is here-  Casting Crowns – Who am I?

This song is incredible and I found its message very important and apt for the time. It is a reminder of the incredible, undeserved grace and love God has for us. It is a reminder that, in the grand scale of things, we are nothing, yet still He loves us! For me, it served to remind me not to boast in myself when things are going particularly well, but at the same time boast in Him.

Things are going well currently, but that is not down to me. So it is good to be confident and to believe in yourself, but it is “not because of what I’ve done, but because of who he is!”

Posted in Christian | Tagged , | Leave a comment