She ran onto the sports field, without giving me a second glance, focused on reaching her team mates. The wind was howling and my voice, calling out, ‘Good luck!’ was lost. I sat, sheltered from the wind in the car, watching her petite figure running to the far end of the field. I wanted to stand on the side lines and cheer her on. This was her first ever touch rugby game and first experience of playing as a team in sport. She’d done dancing and stage shows, working together to perform a routine, but this was a different kind of game. She was by far the smallest. A year 4 girl, playing alongside year 5 and 6 girls.
In the car, with me, sat Sophie and Alice. Little Alice, was fast asleep. Sophie was keen to watch, but only if I was with her. We waited till Alice woke up before braving the gusts.
When Alice woke, I opened the car door with care. We walked head into the wind across the field. It was one of those crazy days when the wind seemed to come from all angles, making it hard to keep balance. Alice was nearly whipped off her feet, bracing herself as a huge gust took us by surprise. I picked her up and waited a moment for it to pass. Like small boats bobbing in a wild sea. In the distance I could see Charlotte practicing with her team and warming up. I felt so proud of her participating with such enthusiasm, especially given the conditions. A part of me wished I could run up and down alongside, but I had Sophie and, especially, Alice to watch over.
Only a couple of years ago Charlotte may have only lasted a short time before losing confidence and running back to me with tears in her eyes. She’d always been quite independent, in familiar situations and surroundings, but nothing like she was now. New places and activities would sometimes overwhelm her. She has now reached a time in her life, at the age of eight, where she enthusiastically seeks out new activities and takes on challenges with everything she has to give. Her confidence awes me and fills me with admiration. I hope her younger sisters also find that amazing inner confidence too, I’m sure they will – in their own time.
The game kicked off and Charlotte ran hard, along with her team, battling the gusts of wind to take control of the ball.
It was a close game, but her team won 4 to 2! It was all over so soon, but to me the sight of her reaching up to hi-5 her team mates hands, in a circle of unity, at the end of the game, will stay with me. I wish I could have zoomed in with a telephoto camera-lense to capture her hand brushing alongside the line of the opposition team. Their hands touching in a sign of good sportsman-ship.
Alongside me Sophie couldn’t wait to run over and congratulate her sister. I retreated to the car ahead of them, with Alice asking for me to take her out of the wind. When I reached the car I turned to see Charlotte and Sophie running together across the field. Their faces lit with smiles, their bodies moved with such strength as though no wind could ever dampen their spirits. My heart was touched with pride. Charlotte had experienced the uplifting sense of achievement that comes from working in a team – and to finish with a win made smiling very easy indeed!
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