If you can’t do it, you must find a way and make it happen!
Many times entrepreneurs need to be resourceful and accept rejection and failure before they finally see the fruits of their efforts. You cannot give up. Marina is one of our collaborators and shows countless times how smart, resilient and adaptable she can be. Her strong mindset makes her ready to look for the silver lining and turn a negative into a positive. Let’s see how she has changed careers with two young children and managed to establish herself. She always finds a way to overcome obstacles and make things happen and we hope you may be inspired by part of her story that she has shared with us.
I am known to many as Coach Marina….
Now a tennis coach, I had originally studied Law and Management through one of the UK’s top universities, LSE, and thought I was destined for other courts but happily landed in the tennis kind. What caused this topspin? My encounters in the corporate and legal field changed my mind and convinced me that I was not where I should be. When I became a mum, I saw life from a different perspective. I am so glad I chose sport. I have experienced the personal growth that involvement with a sport provides. Your body must communicate with your mind and this leads you to discover your strengths and weaknesses. Overcoming them builds your confidence. Mental balance is gained through exercise and using your voice, setting your boundaries and following your dream empowers you.
Making sport a part of your life
Sport was not always a part of my life. I am lucky to come from a time when we played outdoors which involved various sports and made-up games. But as school work increases and also times change, outdoor play is replaced by a screen and it is imperative that children find outlets that encourage active, healthy lifestyles. Not everybody needs to become a coach or parent to realise this but everybody needs a sport in their life to experience the benefits that only a sport can provide. To start them young is the key.
When I was at school you were either smart or sporty and if you were a good student you were rarely encouraged to follow a sport for fun. I wish I could have taught my younger self a thing or two about having a sport. Recreational sport should be encouraged and not based on whether you are good at it or not. A skilled coach will find the way to communicate to your abilities and regress or progress a skill for you. Just give it a try!
Sporty is smart and vice versa
How good you will become is based on how much you enjoy putting in the effort to improve. But you need to try. Sporty is smart and vice versa. Why should children, especially girls be one thing? They can be many. And most importantly give their time to what makes them feel happy, less stressed and more balanced. Sport definitely releases those happy hormones. You breathe in life and exhale all the toxins.
This is a point I wish to promote amongst our children, especially young girls. That they can try and should be flexible, not be limited by labels or the expectations of others. To strive for perfection is disabling for women and many give up before they even try because of the fear of failure and other complexes. I want this message to reach them loud and clear so they overcome this and will grow into agile young women and young men who empower women, able to move and deal with whatever comes their way. The seeds of teamwork, cooperation and communication are planted.
You feel naturally empowered - not sure if it has to do with holding a racket!
Tennis has helped me connect with my body through my mind as it’s so important for both to work harmoniously. I have met some wonderful people who support and are on the same page as myself. Through this world I have learnt to make decisions, problem solve, feel uncomfortable, not be afraid to speak up, loudly if needed, girls can do that it does not mean they are crazy it means listen. You feel naturally empowered – not sure if it has to do with holding a racket! Where you come from has nothing to do with it. Sport creates this common interest and sense of community. The language you speak is irrelevant. The language of tennis is one and you speak it with your fighting spirit through your racket.
The rules of the game unite and separate the players onto opposing sides. You remain united in your passion for the sport. The point being played is the only focus, again and again and who the opponent is, becomes irrelevant if you are truly in the zone. The climax is the handshake at the end. Both sides joining to celebrate the love of the game in true fairplay fashion.
Sport also offers a sense of community within your team or coaching environment. There is unity in your goals and this overcomes any differences that may separate you.
I am encouraging girls in Cyprus to try Tennis and stick to it
A problem in Cyprus, is the amount of girls playing tennis is low. This needs to change. I struggle to find women to play with recreationally. I hope my 7 year old daughter Emilia will not have the same problem. For this reason I am encouraging girls to try the sport and stick to it. I empower them and show them the benefits.
I recently entered a writing competition posted by Cyprus Girls Can as they were looking for a creative writer to write a children’s book that they would publish. It would show the value of sports and how a Cypriot girl develops into a confident young girl through playing sports. I applied with the hope of fulfilling my dream and to empower my young audience, to inspire more girls to give sport a try and create more exposure for tennis in Cyprus and globally.
As a child I used to pretend to make books. I would staple cut up papers together and scribble on them. It has been my dream, ever since I remember, to write a book. A children’s book. One that will speak to the souls of children, that gentle voice that comforts them before they sleep, perhaps offering a motivational crutch for when they need it in years to come.
About 3 years ago I had connected with the founder of Cyprus Girls Can, Natalie. Unfortunately, we never managed to meet in person, but discussed the possibility of arranging a tennis event and how to solve many of these problems. A tragic accident that summer took Natalie’s life and her legacy lives on through this organisation. I later corresponded with Vaia but covid stopped any plans of arranging such an event. So you see, many obstacles arise.
I wanted to put my writer’s hat on and tell my story through the heroine. I am this Cypriot girl, who through sports flourished, living proof, and the best advocate to tell this story.
Having my son Demetris nine years ago and losing my job forced me to change careers. From lawyer to full time mum, I searched for creative outlets. I took a creative writing course with Eve Makis, an established novelist, who mentored me. I was finally writing again after my schooldays. At the American Academy, Larnaca, I wrote and directed plays, was on the editorial team for our school newspaper, the Herald, received prizes in Literature and English for grades of A* in external exams. More recently I prepared content for the franchise’s social media posts and edited a children’s story for them.
Inspired by my community and my children to bring tennis to you
I brought Teddy Tennis here, inspired by Demetris’ balls obsession, to provide children’s sports activities. Demetris was 3 and Emilia 1. My coaching career and work with children began. Six years later I earnt an ITF Coach qualification for Play and Stay, and have studied countless courses for tennis and courses for special needs. The Spherical Approach course gave me the guidelines I needed to create my own website and branded tennis programmes, growing as an entrepreneur and established business. One such programme is The Angel Nicholas Programme, based on sports for children with special abilities, in memory of my brother who was down syndrome.
The pen is mightier than the sword
As a coach I have taught hundreds of children and know how to target their problems. I encourage the children to problem solve, use their voice, challenge their fears. My vision is for these messages to be clear so they stop limiting their abilities. Just as learning opportunities to pass on life lessons are grasped in classes, I will weave these messages into the story that I will write. The girls reading it will feel empowered to climb every mountain and follow every rainbow until they find their dream. Even the boys exposed to the story will start to support the girls in their life as equals. The backdrop is comprised of landscapes that are unique to this island: the moods of the sea are captured in forever changing turquoises, sapphire blues and muddy greens spilling into the fresh fields in spring dotted with yellow sour flowers sprouting under olive trees and wild cyclamens scattered like pink confetti.
The story will feature a young shy Cypriot girl with a side plait who wants to be a vet or a pediatrician one day. She enjoys playing in the forest surrounding her local tennis courts with Benny, her Cyprus poodle. A small black dog with a white patch on his neck. She secretly hugs trees and sends a wish to the stars in the sky every night. Her brother plays tennis and although she wants to try she does not and is scared. But of what? Will she overcome her fear? You will need to read to find out! A road trip takes her past a castle and a tennis court situated at a stunning location on the top of a mountain overlooking a golden beach where a girl waves at her. Her wish is to return and play with her and find out her name, but she needs to learn how to play. The message being sent out loud and clear is that you can if you try, if you can’t you must find a way to make it happen.
can meet with Triumph
and treat those two imposters
You see I didn’t win this competition. It is ok, I did not take this personally, I am proud of my effort. Why am I telling you about it you may ask? Because I will write the children’s book and try and get it published. I want to finish by drawing on the lines of the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, a poem I like to live by. “If you can..lose, and start again at your beginnings and never breathe a word about your loss.” For me I have learned to start from scratch many times. And always find a way. There is something I disagree about with these words however, and it’s probably because of the stoic suppression of feelings that was encouraged at the time when this poem was written in the early 1900s in England. On the contrary I don’t believe in complaining, in fact counting our blessings and sharing our losses with our nearest and dearest so that they may take strength from this and see that regardless of the odds you start and fear nothing. A line that is my favourite from this poem is “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same”. And that’s what I intend to do. Thank you for reading.