Lam’s advice to young people: ‘Focus on what you believe in’

Connacht rugby team encourage Kinvara students to tackle their feelings

Connacht turned their minds to helping others to help themselves this week in preparation for their opening Champions Cup fixture against French visitors Toulouse.

Coach Pat Lam’s squad sessions reminded his players of their ability to inspire, having qualified for the first time on their own merit as Pro 12 champions.

“If we can make a difference to one life, one person, that is the purpose of Connacht rugby – to inspire through success,” said Lam.

Thus, after Connacht's usual Monday morning review meeting, the former schoolteacher directed his squad to the seaside village of Kinvara to take their message of "Tackling your Feelings" to Seamount College. Not without similarities to the Connacht team, it is a school that was earmarked for closure 10 years ago, and now boasts 400 pupils.


“They’ve had a few tough times,” explains Lam. “ I am a school teacher, and the thing about working in the rugby community, it’s great and we like it, but it’s all rugby. In the high schools you are tapping into some of the tough things people go through. We talk about bullying, people under pressure, relationships, breaking up, and I suppose one of the big ones – it’s really at my heart at the moment – is the amount of suicides in Ireland.”

Drawing parallels with Connacht, who survived a shaky start to their Pro 12 title defence before bagging two bonus-point wins over Edinburgh and Ulster, he advised the youngsters to “focus on people you believe in”.

“We did that for the last three weeks. When you focus on all the negative stuff that is said, it’s very difficult, but when you focus on people who believe in you, it’s amazing how you come through.

“This week the boys they tapped into these kids and they made a difference. That’s what we play for and that’s what we represent, and I looked at the boys afterwards and they were all touched and they felt really good after that.”