Team Sport: I always have a ball

16 Apr

I’ve never been in the A squad. I’ve never really had a ‘sporting’ trophy collection per se. Nevertheless, what I can honestly say, is that I love participating in team sports. Out the three sisters – growing up my younger sisters were described as the ‘sporty ones’ and I was deemed the ‘intellectual one’ – participating as a high soprano for 13 yrs in the school choir probably didn’t’ help my case! With my gangly limbs, I wouldn’t call myself the most co-ordinated athlete. On field, some would say I resemble a baby chimpanzee. What I lack in skill, I make up in my undying enthusiasm.

I’ve participating in team sport since the age of 7.  My parents signed me up for tee-ball. A slight resentment still lurks between us sisters –  we still question why our parents chose softball (not even part of the Olympic games and notably renowned for the ‘butch’ players) instead of something a little ‘cooler’ like hockey or soccer.

My softball career can be marked by three key events:

– After not hitting the ball for a whole season, my parents discovered I was short-sighted and needed glasses.

–  Unsuccessful at most other positions, my coach trialled me as pitcher- I pitched to first base. Needless to say I never pitched again.

– Playing catcher was also unsuccessful – I ended up fracturing my little finger as I ‘forgot’ to catch with my mitted hand.

Despite spending majority of my time in the outfield, or on the bench, it didn’t disheartened me. I honestly just loved being part of a team.

Despite playing baseball and softball for over 12 years, I don’t think I ever made a marked improvement. Sometimes, I wonder whether my love for team sport was secretly fuelled by the sausage sizzle at the end of each game. One consistent feature of all my years of Saturday sport was that my dad was present at every game.  Blessed with 3 daughters, I love my dad for sitting through 20 years of girls sport. Especially my C grade games – it must have been painful.

Post school, I have branched out & played a variety of team sports – I’ve tried cricket (no, its not possible to ‘inherit’ your dads skill nor does being Indian make you any good), basketball (my 5ft 2 stature didn’t help), netball (my gangly limbs ‘accidently’ made me an ok player), mixed touch football (I’m not good with egg shaped balls)…

Last year I enrolled in soccer. Hoping my slight resemblance to Jasminder from the film ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ would translate into extraordinary soccer skills. Unfortunately, it did not. I, immediately enjoyed playing soccer. Admittedly, my basketball instincts made my arms reach for the ball a few times – that was kind of embarrassing. I love to run, I love big balls (get your head out of the gutter- I mean not like small cricket or softballs) it was the perfect combo. My team was like the mighty ducks, except we never won. Not a single game. The whole season. One girl tackled our own team mates. our coach refused to wear shoes and had never played soccer. Even though we were rewarded the wooden spoon – I loved being part of the team! The high-fiving, the fist-pumping, the slaps on the back – Why go, bungy jumping – such a adrenaline rush!

Yesterday, we played our first game of the season.  I’m in a new team, and its full of highly experienced & skilled players. Despite the heavy rain and the mud – We won 3-0!  I immediately stepped up my game. Not only in sport, but in  life in general, I find it fascinating how you suddenly get a surge of motivation to improve and challenge yourself when you are surrounded by people of a higher skill level. I even headed the ball….or maybe the ball hit me in the head. Either way, the spectators were impressed and I was elated!

I love team sport. I love the oranges at half time. I love the banter on the sideline. I love the sweaty handshakes at the end. It’s a great feeling. I always have a ball.


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