I emailed my Dad yesterday to ask him to send through some photos of me competing in some sporting events! Perhaps a hockey match, or a photo of me smashing it at the high jump.
I wasn’t going to post the photos I received, but here goes…..
My sporting debut started well, with my brother showing me how to leave the blocks correctly…
Then this tragic egg and spoon race, the lady in the background manically clapping and cheering, desperately trying to hide her hysterical laughter at my wonky legs, frizz ball hair and blatant lack of sporting potential…. (Thanks dad, these are just what I was after!)
Then this one came through. I looked and thought wow, I was good at cricket. I’m obviously waiting to bowl someone out? Oh no, sorry my mistake, this is the walking with an orange in your hand race. Can you see where this is going?
And to top it all off (no pun intended) my darling Dad sent this… This apparently is the topless Cup and Saucer race….Thankfully in my grandmother’s back garden so not in public. Looking at this today, I am honestly thinking this would be more fun now than at age 4. Anyone?
I think the fact that these are the most sporty photos Dad could find, proves that I wasn’t a sporting legend at school, college or anywhere else… Well……maybe I was, in grandmas garden.
I’ve always wanted to enjoy sport, but I’ve never been particularly good at any one thing! I guess I took part because I had to, or because someone else dropped out! I had an awful PE teacher (think Mrs Trunchball) who had really hairy legs, enormous hands and used to threaten to hang us from the ceiling by our toenails! (That is true!). Safe to say she never filled me with enthusiasm when it came to sport! I was always too terrified of letting her down, or worse, making her cross, that I don’t think I ever chose to join a team. I was pushed to do gymnastics which I was terrible at, forced to take part in athletics, in which I was always the loser, and hockey, well that’s just a sore subject! Not only that, all these sports were to be endured whilst wearing itchy, scratchy gym knickers. Mine were always missing (or hidden) so I could be seen trying to pole vault in my Marks & Spencers age 6 frilly panties. Oh don’t worry, it gets worse. In Lacrosse I was always goal keeper, full body pads with a helmet on, just waiting for the 80mph cricket ball to hit me; terrifying is not the word! The older girls used to stand behind the goal singing the “teenage mutant ninja turtle” theme tune at me, laughing their heads off. I would dodge the ball every time it hurtled toward me, therefore letting the other team score. Oh how my teammates would sigh, Mrs Trunchball would glare and I would just carry on crapping myself! Maybe that’s why I didn’t really feel any love for sport. It was the teacher, the horrid girls and the awful outfits.
Since moving to Australia we have a lot more sport in our lives and I have been determined to get the children involved, and for them to enjoy it. The Aussies are sport crazy, and it seems we are becoming the same. Friday night footie, Sunday night sport, Tuesday night footie, that’s the TV not me. Poppy seems to be involved in lots more sport than ever before. This isn’t to say that there weren’t the opportunities back home, but here ,there’s no real way of avoiding your children being on a team! Aussie life is more sport than anything else, well maybe sport and coffee. I mean, the Aussies have public holidays the day after major sporting events!!!! That’s dedication.
For Poppy, I thought this new sporty life was never going to be easy! Two left feet, painfully anxious, and a real butter fingers! I was dreading the try outs, praying she would rather take up Algebra club.
After trying out for a few different things, I suggested she play netball outside of school! Mainly because indoor soccer was a bloody disaster, but also because as a child I was forced to wear the itchy netball knickers (scungies) and play in the drizzle, so I figured now it’s her turn!
Well, I am glad to report it hasn’t ended up being a negative experience for her! Far from it. Her coach isn’t hairy at all, doesn’t have gigantic hands and is one of the kindest people I know. (Secretly gutted, as I thought having a ‘Mrs Trunchball’ would be character building). So, it turns out.. My daughter, who is properly related to me, yes my daughter, my flesh and blood, is bloody brilliant at netball!!! (In your face Mrs Humphreys/Trunchball!!!!) I wish I could take some of the credit for that, but no, it’s all down to her hard work, and nothing to do with my “egg and spoon” prowess.
There are so many reasons I am thrilled that she’s a superstar on the court, not just because I was shit at everything. Mainly because this is the first experience for me where I have seen first hand, just what team sport can do for a child’s confidence. It’s no secret that we have had emotional issues with Poppy! She doesn’t like to be away from my side. She has always been like it, even more so since moving here! It’s been such a challenging time for her, for me, for the school, for everyone in our lives! However, since joining the netball team she has completely come out of her shell. In fact, Mr W and I were only saying this morning she is almost unrecognizable from the girl crying in the car before the first training session!
The reason I felt compelled to write about sport was because it was the last game of the netball season at the weekend and I’m feeling all emotional about it coming to an end! It was the last game of an incredible journey for my darling daughter, and for me too! When I say that, I don’t by any means believe that I put half as much energy into playing netball as Poppy and her team mates, but we have both had the best time. And now I have a new happy, confident girl, who is nicknamed “The Destroyer”, and some pretty awesome friends who I truly adore. Win, win…
As cliched as it sounds, netball has literally changed my girls life, and truthfully, that’s down to one person. The coach has loved her, taught her, encouraged her, been patient with her, corrected her, believed in her, supported her, praised her, put her in her place, and given her the confidence I think she needs to move further in netball and in her life. The coach has been everything a truly wonderful mother would be if we weren’t all too bloody busy with life.
Who knew that so much could change from a season of netball? Who knew I would stand, teary on the sidelines as my previously anxious child is elbowing her opponents out of the way so that she can slam the ball toward the goal? Who knew I would make some precious lifelong friendships whilst cheering the girls on? Who knew how strong the teams friendships would become? Who knew we would feel so deflated when the last game had been played? Not only that, and most importantly for us, who knew just what an incredible impact the love and dedication of a coach could have on a child’s outlook on life?
When we send our children out to play sport, I think we dismiss just what goes into coaching the team. We brush over the fact that these people are volunteers. We’re asking them to prepare our children to put themselves out there on the line for their team and to perform at their best, every week; that’s a serious amount of pressure for a little one, and imagine the hard work that goes into giving them the guts to do it. I don’t think we realise how daunting that must be for some of them as we joyfully sign them up for umpteen clubs. We really must praise these coaches, even more than we already do, for taking our children on this magical journey; praise them for getting them out there, every week and for being dedicated. Praise them for being the biggest part of the team, winners or losers, for listening, for teaching, guiding, caring, sweating and for doing it all in their free time. We need to show them we respect them, and love that they teach our little ones that it’s not all about the game, it’s so much more than that, it truly is about all the other wonderful things they can get out of being there.
This season really has been a heart warming journey for all of us mums watching on, watching the team grow. What a privilege to be able to witness the girls journeys too. To see the shy child completely come out of their shell, the child with no voice hollering for the ball, the naughty one turning it all around and becoming a real team player, the girl who has her head in the clouds becoming completely focused and nailing the game every week!
I’m completely amazed that all this can be achieved in a relatively short amount of time. I am more amazed that all of this, really is down to one person. The person who gives up their free time, not once a week, but three times. She gets up extra early to train the girls, stays late to get that extra half hour of training in. The coach is by far the most awesome member of the team. She’s the one who puts all the pieces together, plans the games, leads the girls, not only that, she guides them in a way that maybe us mums just cant do. She does all this for our children for no reward other than awesome results and a huge amount of respect from us all. There aren’t many places you will find such dedication given to your children free of charge. Thanks to her, I can finally see myself getting my hands on an Olympic Gold, not mine obviously, but Poppy’s. I can see a great future in sport for my girl, I can see her sporty photos are already better than mine, and it’s all down to an awesome season of coaching.
So next time you’re cheering from the sidelines, next time you’re dropping your little darling off to sports so you can have an hour of peace, just remember all the little things “The Coach” is adding to your kids life. All the things that maybe we miss whilst we’re chatting amongst ourselves on the sidelines. All those precious skills that only a coach can teach, all those great life skills our children will rely on forever, and the lessons they will turn to over and over again.
As Magic Johnson (basketball ) once said “All kids need is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them”; and boy I am one happy Mumma that my girl got this and more from her coach! Here’s to our wonderful coach and to some proper Aussie indoor netball really soon.