We spent pretty much the whole of last weekend outside, or so it felt. Despite the quite ridiculous cold. It was grey and windy and there was snow falling gently, although it never settled.
We do this pretty much every weekend, but this was the most outdoor of the outdoor.
My younger son plays football every Saturday morning, with his Daddy the coach. Out of fairness to the other two kids, I have started to go along only when he plays league matches, because it’s a long old time out in the cold and it’s not really what the others want to be doing with their Saturdays.
This Saturday was two league games. We get there 15 minutes before the game kicks off. They play for half an hour. They have 45 minutes off in between, then they play another team for another half an hour. And it is COLD. Cold like you wouldn’t imagine. But I’ve spent the last two years doing this and I know how many layers I need. Thermal baselayers – long-sleeved top and leggings under jeans with two pairs of socks and fleecy wellie liners. No-one in their right mind would wear anything other than wellies on a football (or rugby) pitch in winter. Then there’s a Tshirt, hoodie and TWO coats. Two coats is essential. Plus hat and gloves.
I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t take immense pride in my son’s sporting achievements. He’s a defender, but he’s an attacking defender. He’s everywhere. He even scored the first goal. He takes the goal kicks and the throw-ins. He is SO skilled it makes my heart burst with pride.
Sunday was the biggest date on the under 9s rugby calendar. The county cup. A really serious business. Before we could get there, I had to go for an eight mile training run. Then it was five hours in the cold at rugby. FIVE WHOLE HOURS.
Now I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I don’t really understand rugby. But that doesn’t stop me getting very excited about it. I love to see my son do well and I love to see his team do well. I will scream and shout on the sidelines with the best of them (but only support, never criticism).
The matches were short, then there was operation warm up. Get the warm clothes back on the kids, supply drinks and snacks, rub their hands… Then a quick run around with the team and they were back on the pitch.
They won their first match 5-0. I have never seen them play so competitively. They were determined.
Some of the teams were supposed to be tough. There was talk of ‘local rivals’. But they stuffed them. Each and every one of them. They played four teams and beat them all. They even kept a clean sheet. Unbelievable!
Yes, I’d been out in the cold for hours. But it was worth it. It was worth every second.
The quarter final game was tough. They conceded a try!
Then they got one back. And another.
The game finished 3-2. They’re through to the quarter finals. The kids and parents were going mad cheering. But my son was stressed. He was crying. Right at the end of the game a player in the other team had been injured when my son tackled him. We could hear the kid crying from the other side of the pitch. These things happen. My son often gets hurt when he plays rugby. But he was upset to have hurt someone else. He couldn’t celebrate. He couldn’t settle until he’d found that boy and apologised. He raced after him with tears pouring down his cheeks. He found the boy and shook his hand. His mum was mystified, but touched, by my son. She was close to tears herself. I was already crying.
My boy had made me proud all weekend. But that made me more proud than anything.