Parklife: Grassroots football column
'Dedication is what you need' sang Roy Castle famously. An overheard conversation last weekend afforded some proof and context to this assertion.
A mother had arrived 10 minutes into this game of Under-12s football, and was a little bit out of breath.
The gist of the conversation was this. She has two sons, one plays, one is a referee.
This inevitably causes problems when their respective games are far apart.
She was 10 minutes late for this game, which her son was refereeing, because she had needed to drop one off here 90 minutes prior to kick-off, so she could ferry number two son to the game in which he was playing, arriving in time for HIS kick-off.
She had then returned to watch the refereeing performance, hoping that if there were no delays in the game, she could whisk the ref away immediately afterwards to go to match number two to collect her other offspring.
In the event of a delay, she would send a text message to the coach of game two, and he would take her son to his house after that game, where she would collect him after son number one had completed the formalities of the game of which he was in charge.
This all sounded somewhat hectic to me, but shows the dedication and support that parents will give their kids, all in the name of football.
As the game I was watching had kicked off at 10am, it meant that she had been there at 8.30am before dashing away and then dashing back, ready to dash away again.
Hopefully she didn’t live too far away or that would have entailed a ludicrously early start for a Saturday.
The conversation proceeded without a hint of exasperation at her plight – she was clearly happy to go to such lengths to ensure that her boys could participate.
It was to be hoped that the referee didn’t get too much stick from the fairly large crowd, or it would possibly have made her reconsider her commitment.
The truly amazing thing was that the referee had two games coming up next day on the Sunday, with the playing son having a further match also, so presumably this would require yet more tearing around the county, balancing the itinerary of the day with military precision.
And at some cost in terms of petrol and time.
Without this level of involvement, two young men would miss out on being involved in the great game.
And it must be said that there will be similar examples of this dedication throughout the country as a whole. It is what makes us turn out week after week, season after season.
And why grassroots, or ‘proper football’, must surely have a special place in the heart of everyone.