What comes after is always linked by a tie of affinity to what comes before
(Marcus Aurelius, 4:45)
Life today is frantic; change is perpetual; the desire to be better, quicker, smarter, safer is one of the few constants. But as quickly as life changes, some things will always stay the same.
Sport is also in flux, but what grabs our attention and stokes our passion is legacy. Whether it’s a team’s past, a player’s journey or a tried-and-tested practice, the heart-beat of sport is how players, coaches and fans draw inspiration from and honour those who have gone before. For Mark and Headrite Sport, what has gone before is a love of football passed from father to son, a washing line, pillow case and one young boy’s dream of being like his Brazilian heroes. For centuries, sport has embodied the best of human nature. It encapsulates the human quest to be the best. We achieve this by learning from the past, adapting and improving the methods handed down from one generation to the next.
We all share these memories of a devoted parent or cherished coach, passionately instilling in us the subtle skills of our sport, underpinned by their fierce desire to see us fulfil our potential.
Mark Herrick, the founder of Headrite Sports, knows the importance of history in sport. He is uniquely positioned to marry the best coaching techniques with player welfare. He is the son of a professional footballer and he himself played professionally in England, Scotland and Ireland. He is a leader, captaining his sides and inspiring those around him to follow their sporting dreams. He is a school teacher and coach. Most importantly, he is a father. He wants all players to pursue their footballing dreams with the same determination he did, but he wants them to be protected as best as possible from the rigours demanded by repetitive heading in training and in matches.
Mark’s defining characteristic as a footballer was his forceful presence in the air. Heading the ball didn’t come naturally to him. Indeed, it doesn’t come naturally to any player. It demands focused and constant practice. Hour after hour, ball after ball, jump after jump.
As a boy, Mark was inspired by footage of the great Brazilian team of the 1970’s practicing their timing. They suspended footballs by rope from the overhang of a football stand and used the undulating footballs to perfect their timing, meeting the swinging ball with a firm, confident header. Like every boy, Mark wanted to emulate his heroes. So, far from the sun-soaked, glamour of a Brazilian football stadium, Mark suspended a ball in a pillow case from a washing line on the wild west coast of Ireland and he spent countless hours, and far too many pillow cases for his mother’s liking, perfecting his heading technique and imagining his days in the sun as a professional footballer.
The only thoughts going through his young mind concerned being the best header of a ball he could be. Achieving that competitive edge fuelled his relentless determination to master the beautiful collision of a football’s flight and a player’s skilfully timed leap.
Now Mark knows only too well the real importance of what he learnt from his hours learning good, explosive, precise and safe heading technique. Player injury and concussion are a looming spectre in the world of football at the moment and it’s not going away. Headrite Sports is the best and safest response to this growing concern. Their approach is rooted in Mark’s own journey. They have learnt from the past and have adapted it to provide players the chance of being ahead of the game, but always prioritising their safety.