How football saved my life

I am a massive football fan and have played the game consistently for as long as I can remember, but I never thought I’d see the day I’d say it saved my life (other than to maybe ward of the sands of time from a bit of exercise now and again!)

As I said I have played the beautiful game for as long as I can remember. I started in the back garden with my brother, neighbours and even occasionally my little sister (until I broke her thumb whilst she was forced to play in goal – a story for another time). I’ve played little league, for my school, college, university digs and then Saturday and Sunday league as well as numerous 5 and 7 a-side teams over the years.

One thing I always loved was the camaraderie, particularly in those teams which centred around a newly created ‘club’ with a good ‘witty’ team name: Four-four Tooting, Ten Legs and Sons of Pitches…anyone?

One thing that pervaded the majority of the teams was the embarrassment of the dressing room, by that I mean the embarrassment of getting changed in the dressing room – this is understandable for boys and teenagers.

This didn’t change when I became a ‘man’ and played for a university team, it only changed when I started playing for the Civil Service after I’d graduated and moved to London. I’m not saying this in any homoerotic sense (not that that matters) but no one cared and everyone was perfectly comfortable changing and showering in quite often pretty cramped and cold (*cough*) facilities – we’re talking Saturday amateur football here.

‘What on earth are you going on about?’ I hear you saying.

Testicular cancer infographic

Well, when you think a recent survey suggested as many as 68% of men do not know how to check themselves for testicular cancer and more worryingly 50% would shy away from showing their GP if they discovered a lump.*

Coupled with the fact that testicular cancer is the most common cancer affecting young men in the 15 to 35 age group but if caught at an early stage men can expect a high cure rate with 98% of men disease free after one year. Yet around 60 young men will die of testicular cancer each year.

Would this be different if us men weren’t so embarrassed about visiting the doctor about our intimate parts? Having been to the doctors for varicocele previously it didn’t even cross my mind to visit my GP when I discovered a lump on my right testicle – I often wondered if things would have been slightly different if I hadn’t played for the Civil Service.

* Survey, carried out by UK male cancer charity Orchid, questioned 3,000 men aged 15 to 45.