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Almost Men: The Weekend Part 1.

Updated: Jul 15

This write-up comes in 2 parts.

Is it going to be another one of those weekends?

Monday Morning.

Body aches. Drag myself out of bed. Got to get ready for school. Sigh. I hear mom calling me for breakfast. She does her best to be upbeat. I do my best to respond. I fail. She grips my shoulder and says “you did your best, I’m proud of you”. I love you too mom.

Shoulder hurts but I don’t show it. It’s ok, bumps and bruises are part of the game. We head off to school. As I walk pass the school gates, Mum sees my shoulders slumping and there’s only so much she can do. I see my friends and they start to ask. “How was the game over the weekend?” “Did you win?” “How many tries did you score?”.

I was about to say “We got thrashed again, like you didn’t know it already”. I take a deep breath and say “It was ok”.

Year 2015, Team U12 started out with Naeem (Striped TShirt) and Akmarul (Grey TShirt). When the team started out, to even score a try was an achievement. It was a steep learning curve to figure out themselves and to match up the competition who were more organised.

It’s not kiddie rugby once you cross 12 years of age. Boys start to mature at an exponential rate both body and mind. The competition isn’t the same anymore. It’s a lot tougher where you’re up against boarding schools that train daily and established clubs across the country.

Doing your best isn’t good enough anymore. It has to mean much more to yourself and your friends. A social expectation of a teenager. Put yourself in that boy’s position when he has to go face his friends the next day.

Can that young man handle it on a regular basis?

Sunday Afternoon.

“Get your kit ready! Time to go for training!” My son drags his feet. It’s getting harder to motivate him. “Got my water bottle! I’ll wait at the car!” shouts my little girl. No motivation required. I can see both their teams getting better. Good for my little girl that her team is winning games. Not so for my boy. In the long run, I know my son will get stronger for it.

I can see it but how long will he see it? He’s turning 13 this year and not that wide-eyed little boy anymore. He’s starting to see things differently.

2015, Ryan James. Took him a few years to realise he had the goods to play and compete at a high level. For a good couple of years, the thought of tackling scared him.

Your child is growing up. The feet gets bigger, the adult muscles slowly growing but those child-like eyes are still there. They start to compare, analyse and have expectations of themselves and others. The hard part for a parent is to find the right things to say. You want to make it easier for them but this is their road.

How do you get through to them without crushing their spirit? Can you as a parent find the strength to let them go?

Saturday Evening.

“How was the tournament today Bro?” I sip my Teh Tarik, thinking very carefully how to answer my friend’s question.

I shake my head and with pursed lips “2nd last place”. “So teruk?” Can’t hate my friend for stating the truth. I let loose “Bro, the other teams seem to get it right. The way they play, my boys can’t keep up.” Friends will say what a friend always do, “You’ll get there bro. You love these kids. You will find a way”

2017. Pre-game huddle. The kids rely on you to give the best guidance possible. Me (in red) getting the boys ready for a series of friendlies. Adam (to my right) and Naeem (next to Adam) were with the club since 2015.

You only have 2 hours a week to work with your team. Maybe an extra 2 hours on other days. You do your best to share your experience, impart your skills and instil values. Poor results can lead to a lot of doubt and think perhaps leaving is the best thing for these boys.

Parents and players put so much trust in you as a coach. Are you cutting it as a coach?

To show that the trust is not misplaced.

The story of a player, parent and coach is fictional.

The struggle and thought that comes with the weekend is real.

2018. Cyrus (with ball) fending off a much a larger opponent. A struggle of determination. Sums up one of those of weekends.

Catch Part 2 Here


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