Renae and Joe Ingles, Alen Stajcic, Thierry Henry, Glenn Maxwell, Lionel Messi at PlayersVoice – PlayersVoice

Best of athlete storytelling worldwide

Renae and Joe Ingles say there was “a feeling in our gut. Something wasn’t right”.

Their son Jacob wasn’t developing at the same rate as his twin sister Milla and it was time to seek specialist advice. 

The Australian sporting power couple’s open letter, at Exclusive Insight, about the diagnosis they received regarding Jacob’s condition leads this edition of PV Clips.

Another open letter features in our selection, this time on the murky and confusing dismissal of Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, released by the man himself before his press conference last week.

There’s a beautiful documentary at Religion of Sports about an Icelandic football prodigy, whose career hit an unexpected roadblock, a lovely interview on Dugout with French World Cup winner Thierry Henry about joining Arsenal all those years ago and a useful insight on AFLPA into why a player starting an AFL career should also think about it ending.

There’s plenty more, including Leo Messi being Leo Messi, Eric Cantona being Eric Cantona and Glenn Maxwell being… well, you get the drift.

This is our pick of the world’s best athlete-driven content, just like you get on PlayersVoice everyday.

Stronger together

Jacob and his twin sister Milla were, are and will always be the best thing in the lives of Renae and Joe Ingles. But, in their detailed open letter on Exclusive Insight, the Melbourne Vixens netballer and Utah Jazz basketballer share their acceptance that the path forward will be different to what they expected.

“We knew before it even came out of her mouth,” they write of the day the specialist said Jacob had autism spectrum disorder.

“Maybe it was the way she tilted her head, maybe it was the way she clasped her hands. Don’t know. But it was at that moment we were left feeling empty.”

The letter is a call to parents in similar situations to not feel alone in their grief, determination and, perhaps, feelings of guilt. And it’s a thank you to the sporting organisations Renae and Joe represent for their support. 

A Career STifled

Ingolfur Sigurdsson had sweaty palms. His muscles were stiff. He was dizzy.

This beautifully-crafted story centres on a prodigiously gifted footballer, who was on track to become one of Iceland’s greatest players at a time when the nation was enjoying a golden generation, only for an anxiety disorder to block his way.

‘Ingo the Brave’, at Religion of Sports’ YouTube channel, details Iceland’s incredible transformation from footballing laughing stock, set against Sigurdsson’s fascinating personal story.

While Iceland – with its passionate fans and their bone-rattling ‘Viking Clap’ – qualified for Euro 2016 and the World Cup in 2018, Sigurdsson was reflecting on what might have been.

“I was there for one week,” he says of a trial as a teenager at Arsenal.

“But then, something inside me started to change. It was like a small light deep within. And I felt it immediately.”

STAJCIC REsponds

The Alen Stajcic debacle is inching closer to clarity but the sacked Matildas coach made it abundantly clear he has no idea why he was punted, in this open letter, released shortly before he fronted media this week.

“I wish to make it abundantly clear that during my time as Matildas Head Coach, over nearly five years, I was not made aware, by FFA’s Chief Executive Officer, David Gallop, of the existence of, or the occurrence of, any serious issues of concern within the Matildas set-up,” Stajcic wrote.

“In fact, up until the day before the FFA terminated my employment I have only ever received praise from Mr Gallop both publicly and privately.

“I still do not know the reason(s) why my employment was terminated, aside from Mr Gallop telling me that the Matildas had a ‘poor culture’ and I, as Head Coach, was responsible.”

Over to you, FFA. Anyone home?

The Day HENRY Arrived

Thierry Henry’s amazing time at Arsenal was seeded when he approached Arsene Wenger on a flight to Paris and said he wanted to join the Gunners.

From that point, the French World Cup winner set about proving himself to his new teammates.

“Even though I arrived here as a world champion, I was nobody,” he says, in this lovely interview from Arsenal Media, published through Dugout.

EXIT, STAGE LEFT

The AFL Players’ Association delivers again with a really interesting case study of a player exiting the game.

This piece, by Jimmy Toumpas – who played 37 games for Port Adelaide and Melbourne – is a straight-up honest account by a player who admits the AFL system was more challenging than he anticipated.

Toumpas then gives an insight into how he prepared for and then set about the next part of his life. Read the story here.

GOAT TALK

Brady’s bunch of Super Bowl wins are in uncharted territory, now up to six with the dour but good-enough 13-3 victory by the Patriots over the Rams. But does that make Tom Terrific the best NFL player of them all?

The Players Tribune’s mash-up of opinions suggests Brady has plenty of backers. But there are a few other worthwhile contenders in the mix.

KISS OF DEATH

With one uncomfortably long moment of man-love, it appeared Peter Handscomb quashed any hope Glenn Maxwell had of leaving the Allan Border Medal ceremony with a gong. But Maxi’s assumption was wrong!

Either way, we quite like this little up-close-and-personal view of the awards prelude by the eventual Male T20 Player of the Year.

Oh, and a very special shout out to PlayersVoice founding contributor, Pat Cummins, who claimed the biggest individual prize in the men’s game, and recent contributor Alyssa Healy, who won the women’s.

MESSI DOES PEPSI

No words are necessary. Just a quick bit of direction, a slight balancing act and a ridiculously talented footballer doing something that looks simple, but would cause any mere mortal a world of frustration and, likely, embarrassment.

It’s Leo Messi, as captured by Religion of Sports, balancing a soft drink bottle on a football, taking a step or two back, potting the ball through a hoop, getting the drink bottle to do a somersault and landing truly.

We couldn’t leave this little gem out of our list.

AROUND THE WALL

Still on the football theme, great to see Eric ‘The King’ Cantona back in action and telling it like it is.

The former France striker, most famous for his intense years at Manchester United, is shown in this teaser on Otro, having a little nudge at another fairly polarising figure.

Cantona wonders if some of the supply of footballers from South America to the US could be blocked – perhaps by a wall? – by President Trump.

Hire’s Hardships

Greg Hire has alluded to his troubled background at times during his 10-year career. In this powerful story with PlayersVoice, the Perth Wildcats’ three-time NBL champion lays it all out.

Just days after announcing his retirement, Hire writes openly and deeply about his youth around domestic violence, drugs and depression.

He discusses how a school teacher changed his life and how a child’s suicide compelled him to act on the unacceptable circumstances faced by many Indigenous people. This is a must-read.

Best of athlete storytelling worldwide

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