MANY of us dream of a life of sport, and for us lucky ones, to have both a career and past-time revolving around the sport we love, our dreams have come true.
Soccer facilitator for Munster Technological University (MTU), formerly CIT, Eric Marah has that great life where sport plays a massive role in his everyday routine, and here he tells us how important soccer is in his life.
“Soccer is a big part of our lives, for many of us, including myself it’s a great way to switch off, nothing else matters when you step on the pitch,” said Marah.
The father of two became soccer facilitator at CIT over eight years ago, a role that sees him responsible for looking after seven teams, the coaches and committees, with a major emphasis on student participation through recreational competitions.
Throughout this time, he also coached some of these teams but more recently, stepped aside to focus on strength and conditioning with the players, a role he thoroughly enjoys, but his love of the game began from a very early age.
“I started playing soccer competitively at six years of age with Wilton United under Pat Bowdren. It took me 20 years to realise that Pat was the best coach I ever had and he had a massive influence on my life in general, I reckon even to this day.
“Nobody ever pushed me as hard as Pat did, and nobody probably ever believed in me as a player as much as he did. I know I was six when I started, but I played under Pat for many years.
“We battled each other a lot, sometimes probably too much, I even walked off the pitch mid-match one time (not proud of that one) but Pat got the best out of me. He made me extremely competitive, he made me a winner, if I continued to develop the way I did under him maybe I could have been a decent player.
I feel Pat installed something in me in my earlier days that has stood to me today in business life.
“After Wilton, I went on to play for Ballincollig, before signing for Cork City underage teams. I then actually went on to sign for Cobh Ramblers seniors but soon after I became a dad, got a part-time job while I was in college, and focused on playing MSL.
“While in CIT, myself and the then chairperson Derek O’Rourke, entered a CIT team into the MSL and we enjoyed what was probably the most enjoyable football of my career.
“Sport offers far more than mental and physical benefits. It gives us a purpose, a sense of belonging, helps us fit in, gives us discipline, structure, it’s part of our routine. Sport is simply a part of who we are, imagine a life without sport.”
Well, the 36-year-old from Currraheen has experienced what life is like without sport. For the past 12 months sport has been put to a halt and when your daily life was used to been occupied through sport, how can one adapt?
“This has no doubt has been an extremely challenging year for everyone and in relation to my role as the facilitator, it has completely changed. Our main goal now is communication and interaction with the coaches, committee, and the students.”
Always looking to find a positive from a negative, Marah continues to look for ways to strengthen his knowledge in his field and through his own business EM Fitness and Nutrition, he has kept himself busy.
“Five years ago this month we opened our gym, EM Fitness and Nutrition. I say 'we' as although my name is over the door, my wife Linda would argue that she’s the boss.
“We originally opened in CIT two years ago, and as we developed, we moved to Westside Centre on Model Farm Road. Recently we doubled the size of the gym and we cannot wait to reveal it to our clients once the restrictions lift.
“Within the gym, we offer personal training and group fitness classes. There are currently eight personal trainers including myself, Jenny our pole fitness instructor, and Sharon who keeps us all in check.
“We also offer online coaching, one-to-one and group, as well as online classes. Working out at home has become extremely popular so much so, even at stages of the pandemic when restrictions were lifted, online coaching and classes remained extremely popular.
“We specialise in helping people achieve fat loss but we also believe in a non-restrictive approach which leads to sustainability and enjoyment, which in turn leads to long-term success. At the end of the day, most of us love a good night out and a takeaway! We show people how they can still do that, get results and live a happier life.”
Another positive Marah has taken from this period is the downtime and being able to spend more time with his wife and two children Ava and Sophie.
However, getting back to normality is something he is wishing for to happen sooner rather than later.
Admittedly, the only part of my life I truly missed during this pandemic is playing soccer.
I missed the competition, the craic, the arguments with the opposition, and with the refs, although they have definitely lessened over the years, I think!.
"You've the highs, the lows, and most of all playing matches and training, as this is the only time I can fully switch off from the world around me. I feel I need that and I feel most other people need that switching-off time too.”