Our R&D Assistant, Maya Carter-Birch, is a keen Horseball player, and she recently went to France to compete for Great Britain at the World Cup! Here she tells us how she balances playing Horseball internationally with her work at COMPASS and her social life.
Horseball sounds like quite an unusual sport! What inspired you to get involved?
When I was growing up, I tried pretty much every sport I could, and I loved them all. One year I was doing netball, football, tennis, horse riding, karate and gymnastics all at once! Due to time and financial reasons, as I got older I had to start cutting down, and eventually riding – mainly Horseball – was the one that stuck.
My local riding centre in east London offered Horseball, and I first gave it a go as it looked fun and several of my friends were involved. I loved every minute of it. Looking back, I can understand why – Horseball is a great combination of all the sports I had enjoyed as a child; it has the physicality of karate and rugby, while also requiring athleticism and flexibility like tennis and gymnastics. To top it off, it’s a ball sport – which are always super fun especially when it comes to strategising. But most of all, I loved the team element, something that I really enjoyed in my other sports and is sadly missing from most equestrian disciplines.
After a year, my coach offered me a position in one of his teams at his club, North London Horseball, and it snowballed from there!
Going to the World Cup must have taken a lot of time and dedication; how do you balance training with work and social life?
In a word … prioritisation. This year was my fifth time playing for Great Britain. I was 17 when I was selected for my first World Cup, and so I’ve had lots of practice at balancing school, work, Horseball and my social life. I’ve had to learn to really understand and assess what needs to come first and when. Sometimes Horseball comes first and other times it gets bumped down the list – although I admit that it rarely falls to the bottom! More often than not, I allow my social life to be sacrificed, as this has fewer “consequences” for me. However, when I do find a free day or two, I make sure to carve out time for the people in my life and stick to it. I imagine the only reason my friends put up with my crazy calendar is that I am not at all flaky! Built into all this are plenty of very early mornings and late nights to fit everything and everyone in.
Our vision is a world of mental wellbeing, how do you think pursuing passions can help with this?
I think pursuing passions creates a kind of happiness bubble where you can find comfort knowing you are doing something you love. Following my passions has always been the best path for me. I have always been able to justify the ups and downs that have transpired because I love what I do! I suppose having passions helps to provide a kind of confidence and trust in something when everything else may be out of your control; I think I find a lot of comfort in that.