HEALTH & FITNESS: Team helps individual

FOR the first time in the past four years, my soccer team are today not enjoying the spoils of winning our competition's grand final.

We won the past three deciders but bowed out this year at the semi-final stage.

In the past I would have been fairly gutted to lose such a game but to be honest, this year I looked at it in a whole new light.

At the end of the semi-final and in the hours that passed I didn't feel too bad because at the start of the season I had been contemplating not playing this year.

So I was thankful to have been able to play, and more importantly, to enjoy the company of the people I played and trained with. No matter what age you are, team sport is not only a great way to make long-lasting friendships but also to get active.

This is especially important for me now as a parent who gets little time to myself. It's great to get out on the field and just switch off to everything else except the task at hand.

I really cherish that about team sport now - I probably took it for granted in the past. So I was most disappointed with the fact that soccer was over for another year.

Luckily, this year my club is running a full-field summer women's soccer competition, which means I get to have some "me" time and some enforced exercise with friends through the summer.

My other half plays cricket so it's a long, hot summer with two kids in tow if I don't wrangle some sporting hours for myself.

Being active or committing to getting fit does not always have to involve going to the gym or fitness groups. There are plenty of summer options for keeping fit in terms of team sport.

If soccer is not your bag, then there are loads of other sports to get into with new competitions getting ready to take flight in the next few weeks.

I have a friend who joined a surf club last summer and is loving it. I think she might be trying her hand at surfboat rowing this summer.

There are Oztag competitions, touch, various indoor sports options, triathlon clubs will be swinging into action, and there are the increasingly popular parkruns being held every Saturday at 8am.

It's a great time of year to get moving and get into some community sporting events.

Here are a few local events coming up if you are looking for something to get you moving:

- The Big Beach Challenge is a sand-running event being staged this year along the Merewether-Bar Beach stretch. There are a couple of options, starting with a 3-kilometre "hot sand" option plus a 6-kilometre, 15-kilometre and 30-kilometre run. That's 10 laps for the last one and quite a challenge, to say the least.

- The Fernleigh 15 is being held along the Fernleigh Track on October 20.

- There are also some ocean swims coming up, starting with the Nobbys to Newcastle Ocean Swim on December 15, if you are more of a water person than a land person.

Whatever you choose to get into, do it at your own pace and enjoy the freedom of that time where you can just switch off or clear your head while you are also being active.

Renee Valentine is a qualified personal trainer and mother of two

 GOOD BUDDIES: Team sports help build long-lasting friendships.

GOOD BUDDIES: Team sports help build long-lasting friendships.