At my tennis coaching, a new Polish coach turned up. As we chatted before training he mentioned that he had been playing in a match at the weekend but had lost. “Oh dear,” we said sympathetically. “Well, I had not played for 16 years,” he said in the frank manner of Poles of my acquaintance. Seeing that his new class looked less than entirely entranced with this piece of information, he explained his remark:
I was in Ireland working in construction but then my job disappeared [like so many others, alas] but I was stuck here [again, the Polish frankness], I have an Irish wife and baby, what was I to do? I went to FÁS [the employment and training agency] and they asked me what I could do. They had nothing for me. “Are you any good at sport?” I said no and they said, “Pity, because we need tennis coaches.” Then, I said, actually, I played in Silesia from 6 to 14 when I started playing adult leagues because I was too good for the kids leagues [Poles are not big believers in false modesty either in my experience] and I got sick of it. So, they said great, I re-trained as a tennis coach and here I am. And, I have to say, he was absolutely terrific. I really admire people who turn around and find a new career and I am so glad that he didn’t head back to Poland with his wife and baby because, God knows, we need the coaching.