Fourteen Nill

You know that one where you’re standing with some of the other parents at the start of the game, half keeping an eye on your middle daughter who is busy walking somebody elses dog around like she’s the luckiest person in the world (no, we are not getting a dog), and half making conversation with somebody you don’t really know at all?The subject turned to the town girls team – which was only formed a couple of months ago, and their ridiculously successful first matches (6-2 and 7-1 if memory serves). I mentioned to another parent that it would actually do them some good to lose – to give them some humility, and some perspective.

Famous last words. Today they put fourteen goals past the other side, who never looked like scoring at all. At half time (when they had already scored seven or eight goals) the coaches had words with them about how the opposing team might feel, and about their celebrations. I think all the parents started to feel bad for the other team – and angry with their coaches and parents.

The opposing coaches and parents never did anything to try and lift their team – they never shouted encouragement. The coach never shouted instruction – he just stood with his arms folded. It said a lot that we started cheering for them when they did anything good – and the referee started coaching them too. It was awful.

Why support your child in playing a team game, or coach a team at a game, if you’re not going to get behind them, and support them in any which way you can? It’s worth pointing out that our girls are not the best team in the world by any stretch of the imagination – they are a real mixed bag of ability and experience – but we cheer for all of them regardless.

I made a joke during the second half about the coaches trying to slow our side down – predicting that they would start playing proper pass and move football, and would totally destroy the other team. That’s more or less exactly what happened. Through not trying to run at the other team, they played around them instead, and did even better. It was crazy.

While the kids ran up and down the pitch like lunatics, us parents stood in the sub-zero temperatures on the touchline hugging our flasks of tea, and wishing the minutes away. I haven’t been so cold in quite some time. It’s funny though – being cold seemed to bring all the parents together somehow – we all talked for the first time since the team was founded. It’s funny how adversity causes people to drop their guard.

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