Those of you who know me personally, you know that I am an avid fan of touch football. Each weekend you will find me out on the fields, screaming, jumping and barracking for the various teams I am involved in.
When my son – we will call him J was young, I was willing him to be older so that I could sign him up to a team sport. I wanted to see him get out and run on the fields, as much for his good as for mine. I desperately wanted to make new friends, meet new people and stop feeling as isolated as I did being a Mum of a small child and a business owner.
I remember when my son was about 5 and they had a mini Soccer team on Saturday mornings. There I was on the sidelines all dressed up (in my office gear with high heels on, sinking into the grass) cheering him on. Then I watched in amazement as he became grumpy because “the other boys were taking the ball off him”. The other parents on the side lines laughed and I have to admit I had to stifle a few giggles as I cuddled him and told him it would be OK.
When the Coach changed his position and made him Goalie, I thought OK here we go! Instead he stormed off the field because the boys kicked the ball in the goal! My little Goalie was lying down on the sidelines (leaving us vulnerable) and he was bawling. Telling me how unfair it was. Oh the joys of parenting and early Winter morning starts!
As you have probably figured out Soccer was not our thing. We waited a few years and eventually we became involved in our school touch football team then our local touch football team. Now for over 4 years we have been playing in various teams and age groups. It has been lovely to see them progress from “little minions” as I call them where they just chase the ball all over the field in a “swarm formation” to now, where I can see skill and strategy developing.
We are involved in our lovely local club team where we have a very caring coach right up to the local Representative team where try out were necessary and we thankfully made the cut.
These days we are involved in 3 teams varying from Under 12 – Under 14. This keeps us very busy as well as being the Manager for the Representative Team and the Coach of our own team Harrington Harriers. Our Rep Team means that we have Carnivals to attend each month and we train twice a week – it is a lot of organising to make sure that they get to training and then to the Carnivals which are usually at least an hour away.
Along the way I have met some wonderful people, they are very caring and would bend over backwards for you – that is what I have discovered, there seems to be a loyalty with this club. I remember when I was trying to find Mal Meninga (the Australian Coach and legendary goal kicking centre) a home in Brisbane and my son was over the moon. J told all of his friends at school that Mum had met Mal Meninga, what a proud little boy I had that week.
Apart from the people you meet, I love the fact that kids can roam free on the fields, they learn to be independent and to not hover around their parents. I also love the fact that this gives me a bit of me time where I can chat with other parents and a catch up in the Clubhouse (and a cheeky well-earned Friday night drink) after the games have finished. All of our kids are out kicking balls, running around and exhausting themselves even more whilst we are inside chatting away with each other!
Our Carnivals are a huge amount of fun, we all pack the car, we pick up other team mates and friends and we have a bit of a road trip before we get to the fields. We set up a meeting area usually and then is a case of making sure the kids are wearing sun screen, hats & shirts. We go to their various fields and we scream and cheer them on, making complete fools out of ourselves. We have picnics for lunch on the sidelines when we have a break from playing, we watch the older kids play – wow they can fly! We watch our younger kids absorbed in the game, they all excitedly chatter and mimic the older kids moves on the sidelines. It is wonderful to see the comraderie of the team, it is absolutely terrific!
I wanted to say congratulations to every parent, grand parent, foster parent, uncle, aunty, brother and sister etc. who dedicates their time to ensure that their families are involved in sport – whichever sport it may be. There are so many benefits not only health.
I have seen J grow in confidence, his resilience has improved, his perception of right and wrong is now a bit more grey rather than black and white, because let’s face it we never agree with the referee 100% of the time do we? J is learning about our community, that kids and parents are different that they have different abilities and behaviours.
I believe that parents need a greater amount of dedication to a child’s team than the child does (and usually the parents do!).