04 June 2020
Personally, one of the hardest parts of lockdown has been the effect on sport; our participation as individuals and as a team at MNP. Like most people, we had many plans cancelled and postponed. It’s hard to think that 12 weeks ago we held on to a glimmer of hope that the world would right itself and we could get back to doing some of things we love. The MNP family participates in various initiatives because we love sport, we love the benefits of sport, and we are committed to doing all we can to support the wellness of our team whilst having some fun. There was always something sporty going on that provided a bit of competition between colleagues and some welcome relief during a busy week.
The MNP tennis competition which we have enjoyed for a number of years had to be cut short. Lunchtime runs with colleagues halted. Our par 3 golf challenge that we’d normally play through the spring and summer never started. Many of us were competing in the Hitchin triathlon in July which has been postponed along with many 10km and half marathon events. We enjoyed playing in the IBI Construction cup last year but were really only there to help the takings over the bar, so only some mild disappointment on this one!
Remote working has seen us come up with alternative ways to keep up our collective passion for sport. We now have a very competitive Strava group which was an even battle until one of our team cycled 200km to go and inspect one of our projects! But the rest of our activities are all on hold and we wait with anticipation for some of these to return fully.
On a more personal level, as a family it has completely changed our weekly sporting pattern, something that I am sure everyone can relate to. A typical week was a spreadsheet of clubs and shuttle runs, often all overlapping creating a logistical conundrum. Tennis, swimming, football, hockey, the gym, and of course, rugby are a huge part of the week for me, my wife and 3 kids. That sudden lack of routine required some creativity and a good degree of persuasion to try new things such as online boxing and grit classes, and venturing further than before on mountain bikes and walks. Something we have thoroughly enjoyed and hope to keep going when things ease.
Rugby has been a huge part of my life. I started playing when I was 7 years old and I still play now despite being on the wrong side of 40. Up until the lockdown, we played every week in a Touch Rugby team. We were having some real success taking a few big names down such as Saracens and Bishop Stortford, and playing on the pitch at half time of premiership matches. Wednesdays were an absolute highlight of my week with belly laughing mixed in with lung busting matches, concluded with a compulsory beer. Perhaps fortunate, in the end, to have missed the final few vets’ games where I still act like someone in his 20’s (especially when deciding that the biggest lump on the pitch was going to be hit backwards and defy the laws of momentum).
As a coach of Hitchin U11’s too, this was such a sad way to end the season. Our boys and girls were sitting at an 82% win rate with only a few weeks away from going on tour to Norfolk dressed as Knights of the Round Table. A real season closer for the mini’s and such a shame. It has been fantastic to see coaches adapt to the lockdown with some superb initiatives. We ended up getting over 300 kids to participate in age group videos to catch the ball from the right and pass it to the left, as well as continuing with Sunday morning zoom calls to do fitness sessions and skills training. It’s always great to see the girls and boys as we desperately miss our Sunday mornings.
MNP are very proud to be lead sponsors of Hitchin Rugby Club supporting over 600 children, girls and woman’s rugby, and the senior men’s and vet’s. It is a position we have held for 3 seasons where we have provided funds to help with development, provided kit and resources, and sponsored many events. It is an immensely friendly club and a real centre point in our community played on municipal fields in the heart of Hitchin’s residential area.
For a town ranked in the top 10 for beautiful places to live, it is perhaps no surprise that we have worked hard to retain our HQ here, a place where most of us love to live. We have always had a real focus on our local community as one of the largest local employers in our field, and our links both personally and corporately to Hitchin Rugby club. Despite these difficult and uncertain times, we are really pleased to confirm we are continuing with our sponsorship for the next 2 seasons, once again providing funds to the club to help it to thrive when the season returns after the summer.
As things start to ease, we hope some normality can return and sport has a huge part to play for our kids and adults alike.