It’s nearly the end of the rugby season and I’m counting the days.
By far, and without doubt, Alfie is the worst player on the team. He just doesn’t get it. He doesn’t know where he’s meant to be, doesn’t understand what he’s meant to be doing and much to the annoyance of the coach, will just stand and watch a player from the opposing team rush by him with the ball and score a try. It’s like an open invitation to the opposing side to have Alfie metaphorically open a gate for them and let them through.
But Alfie is blissfully unaware of his shortcomings and comes off the field not even knowing whether his team won or lost and really, not even caring. All that matters to him is that he’s enjoyed himself.
I stand on the sidelines with my dogs beside me, cringing as Alfie keeps opening the gate or worse, stares at the planes flying overhead, fiddles with his mouth guard, wanders around with his hands in his pockets or daydreams about what next to download on his i-pod Touch while his team gets a whipping from the opposing side and suffers another defeat.
The only mercy in this torrid Saturday morning experience is that it is the Under 8’s and not the World Cup. That is how I make myself feel better while also thinking consoling thoughts like, ‘All children should play a team sport’, and ‘It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game’, and ‘Playing sport is good exercise’ and ‘This has been a great way to exercise the dogs’.
As humiliating as it is to have a son who is struggling the other parents have been marvelously supportive and say, ‘Oh don’t worry about it, he’ll get there’, and ‘It’s only the Under 8’s’ and ‘It’s all about fun at this stage’ and ‘They’re all playing badly today’ etc. And the coach has even awarded him ‘Man of the Match’ and he was given a certificate and a block of chocolate. And Alfie was so proud!
I’m also comforted by the fact his big brother was as bad, if not worse. During Archie’s matches he would pick up sticks and dig holes to find worms, stand still and wriggle his wobbly teeth, score trys at the wrong try-line and yell out to me mid-game.
But Archie improved. Sport was compulsory at his high school and as he didn’t want to play soccer or do athletics, he had to play rugby. And one day it all clicked in. He suddenly understood the game and worked his way up from the U13H team to the U16B team.
And this could happen for my future Wallaby too.
On the upside, my little Wallaby attends after-school drama classes. His teacher pulled me aside the other day and told me he’s the most promising in the class. Drama he gets!
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