Competing on the National Stage: A insight into the life of Thai Rugby 7s star, with Patrick Goodman.
By Harry (Yr 9 - STA)
Rugby sevens is widely regarded as one of the toughest sports around and playing internationally is an honour few players achieve. Back in February 2019, St Andrews PE Teacher & Train to Play fitness coach, Patrick Goodman was selected to represent the Thailand National Rugby 7s team, touring Asia and New Zealand along the way.
Recently young Rugby star, Harry Rigden got the chance to ask Patrick some questions about his experience and what he had learnt on the international circuit.
Firstly, thank you for sharing your story, tell us about yourself and how you ended up being in the Thai National team?
I am a PE teacher at St Andrews International School and have always played a range of sports until last year when I started to really focus and specialise on Rugby.
Originally, I’m from Cornwall in the UK, which is considered a rugby hotspot in England. I also have two brothers who also play rugby to a high standard which always inspired me.
I ended up in Thai national team after my rugby coach for Bangkok Southerners, Graham Lewis, signed me up for the Thai Rugby 7’s trial.
Traditionally no western players were allowed to play for the national 7s team but I’d been in the country for three years which made me eligible. I went along, did my best and a week later received a call telling me I had been selected!
What did a typical training week look like for you and how did you balance this with being a full time teacher? (Training)
My school day would run from 7am - 4:30pm followed by training from 5:30pm - 9:30pm. It was a very hectic time but I would prepare the night before making sure my bags were packed the night before and all food preparation was done.
Typically we would train Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, with conditioning work or games on Saturdays.
When big tournaments or tours were approaching we would also train most mornings 6am - 9am. Essentially it was a full time commitment on top of a full time job so understandably it was hard to balance.
A busy time. How do you best fuel your performance and what support was given from the national team... (Nutrition)
I was eating 6 meals a day during training, so I needed to pump in plenty of food. This was predominantly carbs, fat and protein. I would cook up a big batch of beef and vegetable stew or spaghetti bolognese on Sundays which would last for lunches until Wednesday then repeat the process.
After training the team would all sit and eat together at Vajiravudh College. This would be Thai food, a lot of rice, meat and veg. In the build up to the SEA Games we had a doctor come in to run blood tests, and speak individually to each player, using their results to plan what they needed to do to be in peak condition.
Good advice I got from my coach was to find a day where I trained really well and think about what I ate/drank during that day. I quickly found out that 3 coffees in a day would negatively affect my performance (over aroused) so 2 was my limit and that eating an hour before training made me feel lethargic so I’d try and have my last meal a few hours before training started.
On my days off I would tend to stick to fish (salmon or tuna usually). I would try and balance my week with 2 chicken days, 2 fish days, 2 beef days and 1 vegetarian day when possible.
A lot of commitment. Tell us a little bit about your post-match recovery... (Recovery)
Honestly, nothing fancy here really. We would always cool down as a team (15 mins at least) involving stretching and sometimes PNF with the physios. Ice baths were available throughout the day when we would have 7’s tournaments and protein shakes after strength sessions.
It was always tempting on days off to get in the gym and do something relatively intense but my coach was adamant on active recovery. Doing something light. I’d usually go for a skate or do some resistance band work to keep me moving.
What setbacks did you face and how did you deal with them?… (Mindset)
Two come to mind.
1) Injuries. I had two recurring injuries - my hip flexor and AC joint (shoulder). This was really demoralising and tended to happen to me when I was at my fittest/playing my best rugby. To stay positive I would focus on getting better and attending training so I didn’t miss key things and had time to work with the physio.
2) Being the only non Thai in the team came with difficulties too. Traditionally no western players were allowed to play for the national 7s team but I’d been in the country for three years which made me eligible to play in most competitions. I had to overcome the language barrier and familiarise myself with the calls. I had two close friends who were fluent in English and helped me every step of the way, which I am very thankful for. At times I did feel as if I wasn’t welcome and it was very difficult for me. I wanted to quit but I’m glad I persevered and proved my worth to the team. I wanted the respect of my teammates and coaches, so I refused to let this put me down.
What moment stands out most for you from your time in the national set up?
Borneo 7’s tour. I learnt a lot from this tour. My first experience of playing rugby against some of the world's best players. Playing against some of the Fiji National 7’s team and seeing first hand what I’d need to do to succeed at this level. The tournament didn’t go so well but as a group we came together and made massive improvements a year later in New Zealand.
What's the most important thing you've learnt from this experience and what advice would you give to the young players out there reading this?
Perseverance. So many things happened during my time playing for Thailand that would have made it easy to give up. I’m so glad I persevered and made my family proud.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Play a range of sports, especially at a young age.
We like to finish with a quote or mantra that our athletes live by, can you share yours with us...
’You make your own luck’
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