“What kind of a mother lets her son do this?”, was the question I asked myself over and over again as I sat in my warm car and watched, as my son battled it out on the rain drenched footy field. The weather was atrocious! I had never before seen a game where the kids actually got cleaner as the game went on, thanks to the pounding, relentless rain which washed their arms and legs but made sure that the mud that would stain their white shorts for days, got thicker and thicker!
My car told me that it was 7.5 degrees outside and my heart screamed silently for the siren to blow, so I could take him home, give him some warm soup and wrap him up warmly for the rest of the day. But when it comes to footy, who listens to mum? Surely not my boy, who would play in a hurricane if given the chance, and definitely not his father who ignored my pleas to fake an injury and stay home, after I looked out the window and saw Mother Nature beating down on us with fierce determination to show us who’s boss.
It was the longest four quarters of kids’ footy ever, even the dads who normally proudly sport their “admirable” attitude of “If my boy is out there in the elements so am I”, had retreated to the shelter underneath the scoreboard to escape the rain drops that were so hard they actually hurt! But the kids didn’t care. They loved it. They seemed to direct the ball into the mud puddles so they could slip and slide, and occasionally somersault through them in an effort to win the ball. And win the ball they did. The last few seconds saw a desperate madness engulf the field as the game hung in the balance. The atmosphere was electric, parents were yelling out futile instructions to their kids as the ball bounced and slipped through desperate little hands, on a mission to win the game for one of these teams. We were leading by four points, but the ball was right in front of the other team’s goal. There were kids everywhere, no one kept their field positions as everyone bombarded the goal square. The last 30 seconds felt like an eternity, as my daughter and I stomped our feet and screamed, “Blow the siren!”. We must have looked like two crazy lunatics but no one noticed, they were doing the same! The ball slipped from one kid’s hands to the next, as they all dove in and tried their hardest to win the game for their team, some trying to stop the goal, others trying to score it. One bounce in the wrong direction and it would all be over for us. As luck would have it, the siren blew and we won! We cheered and clapped and high fived each other, but as I looked back at the field, my heart broke as I saw the faces of the other kids on the losing team. I saw how they covered their faces with their hands and dropped into the mud in defeat. It’s just a game I know, but it’s so hard to see kids lose. If only they could all win all of the time, but life just doesn’t work like that, we need to experience the joy of winning and the agony of defeat. It grounds us and makes us better people. But still, you tell that to a kid who fought so hard, braved the elements and got nothing for it.
But, it was our boys’ day. They walked off the field, linked arm in arm and belted out their team song. No one heard it because the rain stole anyone’s chance of sharing their moment. But it didn’t matter, it was their moment, their moment of glory, nothing could dampen their feeling of being 10 foot tall and bulletproof, not even the mud and dirt which did not only leave a mark on their clothes, but created a game that would win a place in their hearts forever.