Sports Junkie – Keeping him ready for the next game!

There is no future endeavour that any one of the boys whom I have had the privilege of being background noise too, that could make me feel any more proud.  How is this possible … I simply know that noone person will ever ask or demand of them more than what I demanded. Playing for a national coach as an adult, will be a damn sight easier than fulfilling my expectations. What were my expectations.  For the boys, it was to be the best.  For myself, it was always to keep them ready for the next game.

(Not good enough) Even now as I sing there’s a little voice inside my head

(Not good enough) My youngest son carves it up in the middle of the field and the courts and yet                                                                                                 

(Not good enough) My oldest son, he’s a wreck cos the only thing he ever hears is that

(He’s not good enough) 

I make it hard when it should’ve been easy ……..

Chorus 1 – Not good enough (2016)

The chorus of the song outlined above, that I had written some years before, had been circling in and out of my head for almost 48 hours. As I cycled home from Melbourne’s CBD to my eldest son Kyle’s apartment in Preston NYE 2019, once again, I thought about the possibility of my youngest son Amani playing Australian football. A sport I honestly thought that if he ever played, I would consider myself to be a failure as I believed he was too good to play it.

2016 SMJFL VS WRJFL 14.1

I had raised Amani to be an All Black and thus, the best. AFL is not my idea of being the best. Truth be told, these were the only things left, that I actually believed. However, as I cycled along Brunswick St Fitzroy, for the first time ever, I thought without any emotion, that if was good enough for him. Then it was good for me. I reaffirmed that thought once more and my mind turned to how I would bring it to fruition. I was then hit with the realisation that, no matter what I did in Melbourne, nothing would compare with the thrill that I used to receive at juggling all the sports that Amani once played, whilst working and running him, his brothers Kyle and Mali, the boys brother from another mother and, their friends around Melbourne. Just before I reached Kyle’s place, the old familiar thrill of the challenge of making Amani an All Black emerged and I pushed it away resignedly. I had moved to New Zealand in September and, as I hadn’t been able to establish myself there, I had returned to Melbourne in the middle of December. Thus, after almost 16 years of sacrificing Kyle, myself and our family, the dream was over.

The road to hell ….

In 2005, the year that I learnt that I could do anything, after my sons and I were unceremoniously turfed out onto the street and we moved back in with my mother. It was the year I completed my Masters, represented myself in the Family Law court and learnt how to write consent orders and, discovered that my mother had an aggressive form of dementia. Furthermore, I had to deal with my eldest brother Hiku, whom had also moved into my mother’s place and suffered from drug induced psychosis that made him physically violent toward his girlfriend and myself, when I intervened on her behalf. Finally, I had to deal with the malice of my son’s father, whom lied pathologically to manipulate 50% custody of our sons. Yet, over the ensuing years, probably only contributed about 10% of the time but, was happy to take 50% of their family assistance payments. Most importantly, this was the year, where I shelved Miss Frumpy Dumpy and out of a need for vengeance, I created “Ms Outta My Way, I’m going to make you pay for that and beat you at your game”. In typical, “wait till you see me now” fashion, I ditched the baggy tracksuits and started dressing femininely.

2005 Mum and I @ Seaford

It’s only now, in January 2020 that I can admit, it was a case of fake it until you make it. Ironically, it’s only after losing everything that I know what success is ….. its a word. Anyway 2005 was well and truely the year I became a cunt, in every sense of the word and, I owned it. I was ultra competitive and compulsively obsessed with, raising an All Black. I had something to prove and I was on a mission to demonstrate that I, was better than Boris. In my mind’s eye it was the All Blacks vs the Wallabies and, unlike the 1990’s when the All Blacks could barely win a game against the Wallabies, I was going to win, at all costs. Suffice to say, an exorbitant price was paid and in the aftermath, it’s clear that there are no winners. Publius Vergilius Maro stated “facilis descensus Averno (the descent to hell is easy)”.

Why!

At the end of the 2015 winter sport season, I sat at a table in one of the Melbourne Cricket Ground’s function rooms, enjoying a celebratory dinner for Prahran Junior Football Club (PJFC) parent volunteers. There was a female guest speaker whom spoke about her son, whom had just been drafted into the Richmond Tigers Football Club. Wayne Oswald, the PJFC Development Coach and former Sandringham Dragon’s Football Coach, also spoke and he stated plainly that the objective of children playing sport wasn’t for them to become professional athletes. I vehemently remember mentally disagreeing with him. As far as I was concerned, it was the only reason I was there and why Amani played sport. I did mention I was obsessed, didn’t I?

Background white noise

I was a tyrant with Kyle and I shattered his self-confidence. This affected his willingness to participate and engage in anything, full stop. I was completely out of line but I didn’t know this at the time. Many years would pass and much pain and damage would be inflicted upon both my boys, before I realised it. I can state categorically that, there are no take backs and sorry, is just a 5 letter word. As a human, it is my biggest regret and at times, I keenly feel the pain and guilt of past misdeeds.  However, I have come to know that the unconscious toxic mind, doesn’t know any better and truely is unaware. Thus, one can’t be held responsible and, it’s a slow but steady, one step forward and two steps back, practice makes permanent, approach. A couple of days prior to when Kyle turned 18, I was making his homemade photo book and looking at the baby photos (the only ones I had of him), I lamented that “If I could do it all again, make no mistake, I’d do everything differently”. How? I’d stop living in my head and live in cold, hard reality and, freeze!  I accepted that I couldn’t change the past but I could make better decisions for the future. Perhaps I can steer parents away from the mistakes, that I’ve made. Honestly, I would encourage parents to trust in themselves and enjoy the ride. After all, parenting is a tango, sometimes, one drives in strong, other times, one waits still, in anticipation, watching the child dance around you.  

2016 Mali and Kyle Sunbury Tigers Under 18s

There is no such thing as extraordinary people and moments; Only ordinary tasks being conducted in ordinary moments, which when strung together in sequence, provide the knowledge of what it is one can do.

3 April 2017

All or Nothing

It is my fear of failure that has seen me operate at extremes. An all or nothing approach. I have only felt that I’m at my best when I’m suitably challenged and I scorned anything that I considered easy. The greater the chance of failure, the higher my motivation. Thus, single-handedly juggling basketball, league, rugby, footy and cricket simultaneously was of course a given. Any unconscious parent with a talented and gifted child, will know the bug of obsessing for perfection and worst still, being dissatisfied with reality, which is never as good as the unrealistic expectations of the mind!   What arises from this mindset is pure narcissistic arrogance, which is isolating and toxic. Blinded by my obsession to raise an All Black and after watching a match I broke the sport of rugby union down into different skillsets.  

AUSSIE RULES FOOTBALL

Despite thinking that Aussie Rules was for pansies, I recognised the athletic endeavour behind the sport. The greatest travesty in my minds eye was twofold, these footballers generally can’t tackle well and when they can, due to the “Pushing in the back” rule, perfect executed tackles are penalised. I had felt that the All Blacks incapacity to tackle the Wallabies in the 1990s was testament to this, so I would watch in abject horror as tackles were either ineffectually executed or worse, not executed at all.

2016 East Sandringham Zebras vs East Brighton Vampires 14.1

Tough but fair

The other issue I have is that children are raised by their parents to cheat by deliberately hurting or holding onto the arms or clothing of opponents. Even in the younger age groups such as the under 9s, fathers would tell their sons to hurt Amani. As he got older, the opposition ploys became more dangerous and, he’s suffered from the deliberate appendage to the head and face on a few occasions. I’m not a sook but I did ask the Victorian Football League to intervene and encourage tough but fair playing tactics, due to a serious incident involving Amani. One of Amani’s team mates elbowed an opponent in the head, because his coach had instructed him to hold Amani’s arms and body, in an attempt to keep him off the ball. I’m highly competitive but I play fair.

2016 SMJFL 14.1 – Amani’s protector Sam

My philosophy is very simple, work hard, play hard and beat the opposition because you’ve worked harder than they have. If I’m honest, I also felt that I was tactically smarter than other parents by making Amani learn so many different skillsets that complemented and augmented one another. Infuriated by these notions for many years I wished that all footballers and their fans would be piled into the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the stadium bombed, killing everyone. I can laugh about it now but this was the precedent by which I operated at sport. Sport was a battlefield and I was General and Major but most importantly, Sergeant Major! Urgh! But, I digress. Footy, in addition to instilling kicking skills (perfect for try conversions) and cardiovascular fitness, provided 360 degree awareness. Thus, Kyle joined the South Melbourne Districts Auskick programme in 2004 and Amani by default, joined in. Although, I had my eyes glued to Kyle and hawkishly watched him. I can still remember Amani receiving a handball and perfectly handballing it to another child and running to the back of the line. I didn’t think much of it at the time but, I’ve recounted it many times since.

In 2005, due to Kyle playing league on Saturdays and soccer on Sundays, the boys participated in the Parkside Football Club Auskick programme on Friday nights. Parkside was the great nemesis of his father’s Port Melbourne Colts and, initially he was aghast that the boys were there. However, he got over it. This was the last year that the boys participated in Auskick because in 2006, Kyle joined the South Melbourne Districts under 9s Red team. I didn’t have a car in 2007 but in 2008, the boys anonymously played for the Port Melbourne Colts under 10s. The team struggled for numbers and despite Amani being 6, he was able to participate, under the guise of older children who were absent. The first match I ever watched him play was against Newport Power Junior Football Club at Martin Bryant’s Reserve Newport, whom he would play for four years from 2008 to 2011. Amani was supposed to be in the backline, away from all the action. However, he invariably drifted to the frontline and managed to a kick a goal, one of several that he would kick on that ground. Kyle played soccer for the Port Melbourne Sharks, so he didn’t play that many matches.

The Power to Win

At the age of 7, Amani continued to play anonymously for the Port Melbourne Colts and he joined Newport Power Junior Football Club. Coached by Michael Bosanko, a great man who encouraged all the kids to put their heads over the ball, pick it up and run. Even in under 9s, he was adamant that kids maintain their position on the field. I have the greatest respect for him and his wife Fiona, the team manager, who are down to earth good people, as were all the people at Newport.

The quality of this club, supersedes all the accolades that Amani achieved and I vehemently regret transferring him to St Bernards, an A grade club. Under Michael, Amani won a 3rd and 3 team best and fairest (B&F), best finals player and, the West Region Junior Football League (WRJFL) 11.B B&F by a landslide. His best friend Anthony Carnovale was equal 4th which is amazing, as between the two boys, they monopolised over half the votes available. Despite the awards, Amani would’ve traded all his trophies for a premiership, which would come eventually in 2016.

Turning up the heat

My hunger to know that Amani could carve it up against better quality opposition, was immense. Thus, in 2013, coached by Tony Liberatore a former AFL great, Amani stepped up a grade. I remember one match, which resulted in Boris having a slanging match against the father of WRJFL’s glory boy Josh Kellett, who was irate at his son being shut down by Amani. Neither had ever encountered another child who could not only match his skillset, but beat him. That match set the tone for the season and although, Tony was great at developing the body evenly by encouraging children to practice on their non-dominant side, for an extra $20 of course, I had no respect for his game strategy. In the preliminary final, Amani who excels in the midfield was placed in the backline, away from the action. Tony’s strategy remained in place throughout the entire game and the team were thumped by about 12 goals. Enraged, I went hunting for a new club.

Fallen angel

You are a

Fallen angel

I am a

Fallen angel

We are

Fallen angels

And it took, no effort at all

As we took a fall

Chorus 3 – Fallen Angel (2013)

Fallen Angel

Devastatingly, as the boy who would fight until the final whistle, Amani lost confidence in himself. His confidence had already been heavily shaken earlier in the year when he broke his arm at school. It had been raining on the day in question and Amani decided to leave class and play on the jungle gym, which expectedly was slippery. He fell off and used his arm to break his fall. I recall telling him, next time to save his arms and let the ground hit his face. I was deadly serious. I don’t know who was more distraught, Amani or I. Despite his injury and his arm being in a case, I made him train and attend matches, which included domestic and representative basketball, football and rugby training. Shamefully, all I cared about was that Amani was missing game time and, I have to admit it was the longest 6 weeks of my life. Looking back, I’m truly appalled at my deplorably attitude but, I was a madman on a mission. Despite missing 6 matches, he managed 3rd in the St Bernards team and 6th in the WRFL and, 1st in Keilor Thunder under 12.3 representative basketball best and fairest counts. Small compensation but all in all, it simply fuelled my insanity.

State of the heart

Amani did trial for the Victorian state footy teams but as we lived in the northern suburbs and he played in the western suburbs, the selectors who taught in the area, simply chose their own students. One parent told Boris not to bother because despite seeing that Amani had talent, he knew that he didn’t have a chance. The following year, Boris held Amani at knifepoint and forced him from my home to thwart him from trialling again. Boris had meddled with Amani’s selection for representative cricket a couple of years beforehand. Thus, it was last time, Boris was ever allowed to make a decision regarding Amani’s sports. That incident elevated me to super cunt status and I rocked it! In 2016, Amani trialled for the under 15s and went through to the second round. However, in 2017, he refused to trial, citing friends didn’t want him too. The cards were clearly on the table at that stage and all I could do was watch him fall. Stephen Zayler from Toorak Prahran Cricket club, Prahran Junior Football Club (PJFC) and, the South Metro Junior Football Interleague Coordinator arranged for Amani to work with the PJFC President, David Landrigan, who Amani played cricket with. Lando is a painter by trade and he was a champion footballer. Most importantly he was the winner of the most ducks award in cricket, LOL. On occasion, Amani would sand and paint for him. Steve was a great influence on Amani and I’m deeply indebted to him for all his help over the years. After all he’d done for Amani, it was difficult facing Steve when Amani left PJFC to play for the Vampires and, I told him as much when I spoke with him. Steve would be the nicest person I’ve ever met and I’m privileged to have met him.

Generosity to an upright H

In 2013 and 2014, Amani played for Prahran Junior Football Club (PJFC). I have great respect for this club that was unofficially run by former secretary, Madeline Connors, an amazing generous and selfless woman. PJFC sponsored so many of Amani’s friends, providing boots, mouthguards, uniforms and even feeding the boys. The older age groups were plagued by poor numbers due to private school football. Thus, Amani and his friends would regularly play 2 matches each Sunday. Even Kyle came out of football retirement. Thus, he, Mali and their friend Jye, played and worked for PJFC in 2013. Mali would continue to work in the canteen with Zoe Juricic for at least another year.

2014 PJFC vs Cheltenham 15.5

Enter the Dragon

In 2015, Amani played representative football for the 13.1 South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL). They were severely thumped by the Yarra League, scoring heavily everytime Amani left the field. Imagine my frustration, LOL. Lucky there were only two matches to endure over a day. In 2016, he played in the 14.1 SMJFL team and they annihilated the opposition, including Yarra.

However, once again the team lost the final to Yarra, due to Amani and a few other key players absence. Amani had state rugby league duties in Newcastle and his teammates had family holiday engagements. Later that year, Amani and many of the boys in his domestic and representative teams joined the Sandringham Dragons Football squad, which feeds the Australian Football League (AFL). In 2017, there was direct competition between SMJFL and the Sandringham Dragons. Thus, the strong 14.1 SMJFL team was split in half and the boys received a hiding. To add insult to injury, all the boys whom had played in the SMJFL competition were stung the full amount to join the Sandringham Dragons squad. In light of having paid $1500 for the Rebels State Rugby Union Squad, $1500 for the Victorian Rugby League Squad, $150 for the Craig Shield Representative Cricket Team, $220 for the SMJFL team, I baulked at another $350 for the Dragons, for half a season. All these fees were over and above the cost for all his domestic team fees of over $1000. Thus, once again I reached for the door and took him to the Northern Football League, where the boys couldn’t mark the ball well. A basic skill and not surprisingly, they were thrashed in the matches. In hindsight, I should’ve sucked up the Dragons fee but, I felt that greed should not be encouraged.

Vampires bleed blood

2016 14.1 Premiers – Sam, Mounty, Hilly and Amani

2016 was a stellar yearn for Amani. In addition to playing Craig Shield under 15s representative cricket as an almost 14 year old and representing Victoria in both league and union, he co-captained the East Brighton Vampires 14.1 premiership team with James Hill and Sam Pirola, coached under former AFL premiership winner Stephen Mount. It was Sam who elbowed the East Sandringham child in the grand final. I remember asking Amani at the first change over, why he was quiet. He looked at me pained and told me that he was being held onto. Callen had been sanctioned with the task of holding onto Amani the entire season. In my books, bad coaching and poor sportsmanship. Irony of all ironies is that Stephen Mount whom taught at the same school that Callen attended was cited for bad sportsman and accused of inciting Sam to target him. Callen’s father made it a school thing and humiliated Stephen by formally demanding an apology and assurance not to victimise his son at school. Hypocrisy at it’s best. He’d have mentally thought it acceptable for his son to cheat the entire season but, couldn’t wear the consequences of that thought process. All the boys knew that the Zebras were going to target Amani and, Sam took it upon himself to protect him. I’ve watched and rewatched the video and although, I do not condone Sam’s actions that led to Callen being struck, I know there wasn’t any malice in the behaviour. Unlike the odd team mate of Callen’s, that wasn’t above deliberately concussing Amani with a knee to the head, in an attempt to sideline him. Amani being Amani simply shook it off and continued because that’s what he did and better to have a sore head than to be sidelined on the bench. Also, he’d have known I would’ve been upset and, when I found out weeks later I was mortified. This, I outlined in the letter to the VFL and the President of the SMJFL. I didn’t receive a response from either party, but the following year, some St Kilda player was championing fair play. Incidences like these simply tarnish sport and that football season, especially when the East Sandringham team were awarded Sportsmanship of the year for supporting Will Murray, a rising superstar who dove off a pier at Half Moon Bay and became a quadriplegic. Amani had always played a year above his age group so he never played against Will domestically but they played side by side together in the SMJFL teams.

2015 SMJFL 13.1

It was at a tribute match for Will at the Docklands stadium, now Marvel Stadium at the beginning of the season that I would see both his new team, the Vampires and the Zebras in action.

2016 Vampires vs Zebras @ Marvel Stadium for Will Murray

Surprisingly, it was Amani who elected to play for the Vamps, after a conversation with Hilly, his co-captain. Initially, I was adverse to it as he would be playing in his own age group. However, I took the phone call from Mounty and the rest is history. In addition to winning the premiership, Amani won best on ground in the grand final, team B&F and was runner up in the SMJFL B&F. State league duties probably cost Amani the SMJFL B&F but, he didn’t care about that. He’d won a most coveted prize, an Aussie Rules premiership. I wish I could say that this was only the beginning. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of the end.

Fear is Learnt

In 2017, Amani plummeted after I told him that I was going to study Pilates so that I could be of better assistance on the sports field. I had figured that everything was in place and that his father could take over the day to day driving operations. Amani was in both the Storm and Rebels squads and he won the man of the match for the under 17s turf cricket grand final, with 99 not out.

2016/2017 Under 17s Turf Cricket Toorak-Prahran vs Caulfield

He’d not participated in cricket representative because we’d travelled to New Zealand to participate in the Tira Hoe Waka from Taumaranui to Whanganui. At the beginning of the football season, Amani decides he wants to leave the Vampires and play with his friend Anthony in South Melbourne. What ensued was a poor state of affairs with a lot of emails trying to make arrangements for the transfer. In the end Amani remained with the Vampires, but it set a poor precedent for the remainder of the year. Amani missed a few matches, due to the proposed transferred debacle and state league duties. The Vampires dominated during the year but were despatched in the semi-final. Irrespective of his poor showing, Amani still managed both the team and SMJFL runner-up B&F.

Amani moved to New Zealand at the end of 2017 and thus, football took a sabbatical for a year. However, in 2019 Amani joined the St Kilda City Under 19s, a competition well below his capabilities. Lack-lustre is the best description for his performance but despite that he still managed team runner-up B&F. Heavy recruiting meant that the team was stacked to the hilt and the premiership was theirs for the taking. I was in New Zealand during the grand final and I had to contend with watching the match via messenger. The boys controlled the match from start to finish and thrashed the opposition by at least 10 goals.

LEAGUE

To learn how to tackle, which would be important for tackling Wallabies in the future (ha ha ha), the boys joined Altona Roosters Rugby League club in 2005. Poor Kyle wasn’t enthused and with my rantings, it really spelled the beginning of the end. He played for a couple of seasons but eventually gave it up. Amani on the other hand was full of energy and highly enthusiastic but being a little young he became the team mascot. Ironically, this would be the beginning for him!

At the time, Billy Slater was the best player in the world and all the kids back then, including Amani, insisted on playing fullback, the last line of defence. Amani was tiny and despite his sized, he was second to noone and could take down kids much bigger and older.

Amani would play for the roosters most seasons from 2006 until 2012 and then after a couple of seasons playing rugby union, he rejoined the roosters in 2015.

In 2007 I didn’t have a car and in 2009, Amani played with the Waverly Panthers Rugby League Under 8s team. An offer from a Roosters parent to take him to training and Amani rejoined the Roosters in 2010. Ironically, this parent would be the reason Amani left the Roosters in 2016.

In 2011 and 2012, due to a lack of numbers, Amani played 2 years above his age grade. He was coached by Grant McDonald, a highly passionate man who fought tooth and nail for the boys. Unfortunately, poor health has seen Grant pass on but I’ll always remember him generously buying the team hot dogs and chips and, ready to scrape with the powers that be, when he thought the boys integrity was in question.

2012 The Skunk

The photo of Amani above shows the hairstyle he would be famous for that year. The blonde patch was supposed to be curved like the line on a tennis ball but the Asian hairdresser fucked up, so he was known as the Skunk. In footy it would be the means by which Amani was identified and targeted. In the preliminary final, he had not one but two taggers and it took him two quarters to work out how to shake them both. Unfortunately, one of his highly skilled teammates shat himself and thus, the team was always one player short for 3 quarters of that match. By the time the boy was removed, it was too late for Amani to claw back the difference. However, I can still see him order his tall ruckman Slidey out of a ball up contest in the second half and, despite being a shade over 4 feet tall, he rucked and then roved the ball for the remainder of the half. Thank god for basketball and leaping for rebounds! Although, I didn’t think he deserved to win best finals player at the time, now upon reflection, it’s understandable why he did. This is the part where I make it clear that I am Amani’s greatest fan but I was his worse critique. The joke between him and his father is that when I complimented him on a good performance, he must’ve played really well because I’m hard to please. I’ve already stated what a cunt I was.

At the beginning of 2012, just before his 10th birthday, Amani was invited to the Victorian Rugby League under 12s training sessions. He trialled unsuccessfully for the State team later that year but competing against children who were 3 years older and twice as big, meant he’d have to wait until 2016. The state administrator Ryan Walker told his father that he was too young but he would keep an eye on him, which he did.

2011 Under 11s Roosters vs Keilor Wolves

Eye of the Tiger

In 2016, I transferred Amani to the Sunbury Tigers as a few Roosters parents felt that a domestic sports team was more important that his representative commitments. Amani had representative football training Tuesday nights, which clashed with league training. Make no mistake, even now in a conscious state, a representative sports team will always take precedence. The Tigers and Roosters fought well against each that year and the Roosters smashed the Tigers in the grand final, a week after the Aussie Rules grand final. Disappointing but that’s what alcohol is for, lol. The Vampire parents had a celebration that night and I had a lot of fun so, the league final loss was just a speed hump. It would be 2 years later in New Zealand that Amani would win a domestic league premiership.

2018 Taupo Phoenix Under 17s Premiers

In 2016, Amani made the Under 14 Victorian Rugby League team, participating in the Country New South Wales competition in Wagga Wagga in June and July. Stupidly, I forgot my bag as I’d been concerned with everybody else, so Boris was kind enough to buy a lot of cheap clothing at Kmart. Seriously, items of clothing priced between $3-$6 is a steal. Although, the fluorescent pink half calf slippers that I bought from Kmart didn’t quite cut it so, he did splash out on $25 gumboots at pararubber because it poured down heavily that weekend. There were puddles on puddles. I still have the gumboots, which are sitting in Kyle’s apartments caged area down in the basement. Everytime, I look at them I remember that Queen’s birthday weekend.

2016 Victorian Rugby League Squad @ Wagga Wagga

The boys won all but one match, which they drew. This cost them the opportunity to play in the Trophy final and they had to contend with the Plate final which they lost in Newcastle against Newcastle. Actually, they were thrashed in Newcastle against Newcastle. However, one year later, against the same team, in the same location, hot off the heels of winning the Under 15B National Rugby League final, the boys exacted their revenge. Newcastle were receiving a resounding beating, but were repeatedly able to exploit a weak Victorian corner late in the second half. Amani played half-back and not centre this year, so he was well away from the action. However, due to Newcastle capitulating to pressure and missing a crucial pass that would have surely ended in a try winning victory, Amani held the ball at the final siren. I can still see his team mates pulling the Newcastle boys off him as he stood and threw the ball behind him in celebration.

2017 Victorian Rugby League Under 15 Team

2017 was a bitch of year for league and Amani’s motivation waned heavily. Amani had played Centre in 2016 and knowing that he was better utilised in the middle of the field, I nominated him for the halfback position. He was bereft at the trials because he hadn’t expected it and more importantly, it was the same position that his Tigers teammate Trent played. He complained to me afterward as we sped to cricket and, looking back it’s definitely a moment where I can see his self-worth ebb. That year, Amani barely played domestic league, choosing to play for the Port Melbourne Colts football team instead. Further to that, Amani missed a number of state trainings and, his coach Ash pulled him aside one evening and told him that there were boys out on the paddock whom would be out on their ear if they missed a single training. But he, who had missed 5 or 6 training sessions for no reason was still in the squad because he had more talent than all those boys. Suffice to say, Boris who recounted the story to me later was relieved of driving duties and I resumed taking Amani to training. Amani continued to spiral downwards and he had dropped out of school. The conundrum with that decision is that the state team is a school team and, the same league parent who was responsible for Amani moving clubs, quite rightly tried to have him removed, so that his son could make the team. In the car, I told Amani firmly he was going back to school and under no circumstances, was he to let anyone, not even himself, take away what he’d be working for his entire life.

The Phoenix rises from the ashes

My brother Atene is a massive sport buff, travelling the breadth of New Zealand to coach or referee athletics, rugby, league, touch rugby and sevens. He contacted Stephanie Tahana the team manager for the Tuwharetoa Under 17s Maori Rugby League team to enquire as to the possibility of Amani participating in the tournament held annually in Rotorua. Irrespective of Amani living in Gisborne, a 5 hour bus trip from Taupo, he made the weekly sojourn for training and to play for the Taupo Phoenix under 17s rugby league team. It’s pertinent to point out that Atene didn’t know Stephanie or her partner BJ and, Amani was included in the team based on his sport resume and a few videos. Apparently, BJ’s sister was drunk the day they all met and tried to lick Amani whilst he was seated on the couch, which was the right recipe to break the ice. From then on in, Amani was part of the family, as he’d been given the lick of approval. Atene paid for me to attend the tournament and I travelled to Rotorua from Dunedin to meet Amani’s Taupo whanau.

2018 Tuwharetoa Under 17s Rugby League Team

A couple of Amani’s former Tigers teammates Trent and Legacy were in the Tuwharetoa team, so he had friends. The team gelled well but liked to give their opponents lots of leg room and they always had to come from behind to win their matches. The danger team, Taranaki were hot favourites but the boys dispensed with them in both the round robin and final.

Trent, Amani and Legacy

BOP till you drop

Despite my contacting both the coach and the president of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) representative team and BOP region, Amani was a very late inclusion into the squad. Apparently, being selected for Australia the previous year was meaningless. The squad which was filled with boys from the coach’s domestic team was talented but fronted by a small minded, but apparently really nice guy. The Phoenix boys thrashed the coach’s team in the grand final by a mile and a country, but again such credentials didn’t warrant inclusion into the BOP team. Thus, some boys refused to participate and only 5 of the Phonenix boys including Amani, thanks to Stephanie’s persistence, were selected. Amani wasn’t short changed during the tournament, spending only a half of the entire tournament on the bench. The travesty is that, his equally talented Phoenix teammates spent a lot of time on the bench because Jason sacrificed them to showcase his domestic team talent for the WAI-COA-Bay regional representative squad. Thus, they lost the final against ordinary opposition in howling wet conditions. Amani and many of his Phoenix teammates made the WAI-COA-Bay regional representative squad but, Amani participated in the Wellington Rugby Union tournament that was stupidly held at the same time at the National Rugby League tournament. Selfish and/or mindless decision making by rugby officials. However, not everyone is open to their child playing multiple sport like I am, so it’s understandable. Sadly, after 13 years, this would be the last time Amani would take to the league field. As a child anyway, who knows what the future holds.

2018 Phoenix boys in WAI-COA Bay Squad

SOCCER/FOOTBALL

Sunday soccer at Dendy Park Brighton in 2005 and 2006, gave the boys full body awareness, eye feet coordination and the capacity to run. I prefer this code of football to any other, not only due to the skill involved (minus the hollywood acting) but, due to it’s neutrality. Boris was all about Aussie Rules and I was all about rugby.

In 2008, the boys joined the Port Melbourne Sharks under 6s and under 9s. Amani would sometimes play for Kyle’s team when he wasn’t playing footy. I can still remember how disciplined and talented some of the children were at 5 and 6 years old. I’m sure they’ve gone on to play a high standard of football.

Football is very expensive and so Amani joined the Altona Magic under 10s team in 2009, which at $200 was only half of what the Sharks wanted. The one thing that stands out in my mind is opposition parents verbally attacking children from Amani’s team. In hindsight, I guess they mirrored my own depraved behaviour when I spoke at my own sons. Cringe!!!!! I spent that match telling those parents to shut up and stop attacking 7 to 10 year old children. It’s amazing even now, that on a sport field, it’s quite acceptable to bully children. Yet, in the school yard, teachers and principals are held accountable if their children are bullied. It’s sad, that signage is made and displayed, reminding adults that children are playing and that referees made mistakes. Looking back, I realise those parents and I were the same ….. hindsight is 20/20.

In 2009, Amani would play football and then play 2 footy matches, one for Newport Power and the other for the Port Melbourne Colts. On Saturdays he’d play league and then basketball and, even after all that running around, he’d still continue to run around at full-tilt. I used to get tired watching him and need to nap in the car. LOL, probably explains why I was overweight and unfit.

In 2010, I was away on tour and Boris seized the opportunity to remove Amani from football. Such is life!

CRICKET

Cricket, once the bane of my existence began at South Melbourne Districts milo cricket in 2004. Growing up in New Zealand, there were only 2 channels on TV and during summer I had to endure watching it. OMG, I hated that sport with a passion. I remember complaining to Boris years later. Tongue in cheek he said, that he hoped the boys would bat first and lose their wicket immediately, so that I’d have to sit and watch the entire match. I made the decision right there and then, that I would tolerate cricket. Little did I know that I would develop into a competent bowler and spend many an hour bowling at Amani. He wouldn’t let me bat often and if I did, he endeavoured to hurt me. One day, he had to remind me to use the allow the ball to hit the pads because instinctively I’d jump when the ball was bowled to me. I remember one of the Dad’s told me he should be nicer to me, LOL! I never batted again. The most important I can do score and many a cricket book have been demarcated with my love of colour, both in and out of my onesies!

Cookie monster scoring in cool weather

Suffice to say, I recognise cricket to be a game similar to chess and I do admire the game for this. Furthermore, it hones eye hand coordination and the ability to hit and catch a ball delivered at rapid speeds or curving in space at weird angles.  Fielding provides patience, discipline to return to where placed by the captain, vigilance and the ability to react in microseconds to a ball designed to impound damage. Unfortunately, after moving Amani to Toorak Prahran Cricket Club where participation was championed, Amani lost his confidence bowling. Many children were afraid of getting hurt and didn’t know how to field, so many a ball of his were sent to the boundary. C’est la vie.

McTony’s @ Port

Amani and Kyle spent a couple of years participating in Port Melbourne Cricket Club (PMCC) Milo and of course, I insisted that Amani participate with the older kids. Thus, when I learnt that there would be an under 11s team in 2009, I signed the boys up in 2008. Strike whilst the iron is hot, right?

2006 Port Melbourne Cricket Club Milo Cricket with Andrew Gilchrist

In 2009/2010 the boys joined the PMCC under 11s team and lost ever match. At the age of 7, Amani was the smallest and youngest but that wasn’t evident when he played. The club secretary Tony was awesome and every week after cricket, the boys would have breakfast at McTony’s aka PMCC clubrooms. Hot raisin toast which I still love to eat. There were eggs and scones and bacon. Tea was oreos and water melon, which at the time was awesome. Years later I would see cricket teas that were kids party spreads (North Balwyn and Oakleigh Cricket Clubs) and and this was elevated to chic Soirées when the Jewish families from Caulfield catered. I do mean catered, because one of the families owned a renown restaurant and simply ordered food in. It’s the only time I’ve eaten salmon at the cricket. Seriously all that was missing was champagne.

2009/2010 Port Melbourne Cricket Club Under 11s Team

The best thing about PMCC was Merv an old stalwart who would regale me with tales of his own playing days. Merv used to drive a horse and buggy to deliver the milk and was a fast bowler, despite being short and, had a crocodile jaw snapping action when he caught the ball. He truly is the last of the gallant gentlemen who once pervaded the world. To commemorate his involvement at the PMCC, the best and fairest trophy is named after him and, proudly Amani and his coaches Daniel and Sam are photographed with him.

Inaugural Port Melbourne Cricket Club Best and Fairest 2009/2010

In 2010/2011 thanks to a recruitment drive, 2 under 11s teams were established. Controversy erupted over selection and one family left after I threw in my 5cents worth. The precedent was set for the season and the two teams would meet in the semi-final and Amani’s team the Blues would beat the Reds in a rain delayed match. The final against Spotswood was equally thrilling, with the boys losing by a whisker.

Boris who was a bigger cunt than I was at time, had prevented Amani from playing in the representative cricket tournament for the Western Region Junior Cricket Association (WRJCA). He claimed that Amani’s coach, Sam who was also the representative coach said he wasn’t good enough. For a ticking time bomb such as myself, I exploded with rage. What ensued was a toxic wasteland which saw Sam leave the club and me fighting with the administration. It’ll come as no surprise that Amani played for another club the following season. I have to apologise sincerely for my deplorable behaviour and if it’s not too late, I’d like to wish everyone the very best.

Raging Bull

A funny story I can recount about myself is that I was called the Raging Bull when I played indoor football, due to my charging at the player, who obviously had the ball. Anyway, in 2012 Amani joined the North Balwyn Bulls under 12A team, after being rejected by a Hawthorn team. Whilst trialing, he stepped away from his wickets a couple of times and the coaches felt he wasn’t A grade material. Little did they know that years later, Amani would be invited to trial for the State Cricket team off his own bat. A few paid cricket lessons sorted out that flaw and very soon, he could place pressure on the field with his capacity to steal runs, drive and pull the ball. Amani isn’t a 20/20 player, he doesn’t smash the ball successfully. He’s pure class and places the ball deliberately. Amani was a late entrance to the team and it was a toss up between him and another child, who used his feet to try and stop the ball, instead of bending over to pick it up. I knew instantly, Amani who fields better than he bats, was in the team, which was very talented. However, so were all the other teams and, it came to a showdown against the Hawthorn team to make the finals. The team stars capitulated and, the son of some Balwyn official who couldn’t play cricket well was elevated above Amani in the batting order. By the time Amani batted, there were too few balls to bat and too many runs for Amani to scrape back but, he did an admirable job. What I did learn that season is that the better teams get the better grounds and walk less.

Where the grass is greener

In 2013, Amani joined Toorak-Prahran Cricket Club (TPCC) with his friends, Anthony, Rhys and Foxy. Sure, I was annoyed with the coach from North Balwyn Bulls but after looking at the website, I saw that TPCC had several teams. Intrigued I took the boys to a training session run by Stephen Zayler, the Junior Coordinator during the September holidays. Not knowing anyone, the boys were clustered around me and Jim Hallam, the treasurer approached us and asked why the boys weren’t with the all the other boys. Before I knew it, all the boys were ushered into the clubrooms and fully kitted out and were registered to play on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It wasn’t too long before Amani was playing Friday nights and filling in for the seniors Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In the 2014/2015 Amani was registered to play in 5 domestic teams and in the Southern Districts Cricket League Nolan Representative team. This spelled the end of representative basketball.

Why is the grass greener? It isn’t, it’s just that we saw a lot of it. Suffice to say, Amani is better at cleaning whites than I am. The secret is that he adds everything, napisan, bleach, moisturiser, shampoo, conditioner. Basically whatever was in the cupboard, was added. I can’t bring myself to add moisturiser to the whites bucket. I spoke to another mum, who’s son also adds moisturiser to his whites bucket, so go figure.

Jim Hallam is extremely generous and loves to help those that are disadvantaged. He bought the boys brand new asics runners, clothes and sports equipment. Rhys and Anthony’s parents were already in awe with the boys playing for the likes of Toorak and, Jim’s generosity rained down on them. Jim still makes regular contributions to the Collingwood Neighbourhood House, where I worked for many years. As cricket legend Richie Bernaud used to say, he truly is Marvellous!

The first season at TPCC was interesting because Amani went from A grade to the worst grade of cricket, I’d ever witnessed. Steve fostered a participation philosophy so every child rotated through the batting and bowling ranks. I can see the intelligence behind this mindset now but at the time, I wanted to walk. Fortunately, things improved over the years and the highlight that first season was Amani’s 95 not out. The elusive 100 was a few years away and, would be made in seniors not juniors. His first cricket premiership would also be in seniors but he did win a few junior premierships. The highlight of his cricket would be 99 not out in the under 17s turf final in 2017, where his teammate ran 1 short. There were a lot of great moments over the years and Amani was recognised for it at the 2017 TPCC senior prizegiving.

2016/2017 Toorak Prahran Sunday Turf Under 17s Team

LITTLE ATHS

For sprinting skills, my sons joined little athletics in South Melbourne, where some genius decided that a 300m running track was appropriate. Hilarious but WTF! This story is short lived because the boys were very young. Although, Amani did spend a season at the Collingwood Little Athletics Club in 2009.

MARTIAL ARTS

Kyle took up karate for a couple of years, which was part of the after school care programme at Port Melbourne Primary School in 2004. I like martial arts for self-discipline, self-mastery and precision. As a result, Amani followed at age 7. This story too is short, as my tyrannical behaviour led to Kyle losing interest in sport at about the age of ten and thus, for many years I concentrated solely on Amani.

BASKETBALL

Amani took up basketball at the age of 7, playing for Middle Park Primary School. There were so many kids that the team was split into 2. Amani drew the short end of the stick and was lumped with all the kids that required alot of practice. I was resentful of the unfair segregation of talent because I didn’t want Amani to know the burden of carrying an unfair load. However, this was merely the precedent. Upon reflection, experiences like this developed my efficacious skillset, which I’m now thankful for. But, I didn’t see that and my truth or should I say, my contextualised perception, which was dependent upon my historical experience, saw persecution. The fact, without embellishment is that Amani played basketball with his classmates. Unfortunately, my childhood lenses distorted reality and ignited an emotional neurotic stance that would see Amani dragged from pillar to post. That aside, basketball was amazing for developing ambidexterity and, the capacity to move rapidly between offence and defence.  Add to that sprinting, jumping and the capacity to minutely judge and react quickly enough to steal the ball.

When Amani first joined the frogs, there were very few boys and Jacko was injured. Thus, he’d have to play 1 against 5. However, over the years, more Tigers boys joined the team and lost the grand final due to injuries. Foot injuries are very common in basketball due to the high impact of leaping and landing on growing plates within the feet. Unfortunately, talented children are over inundated with commitments and thus, the Frogs folded.

After 3 years of mediocre basketball, finally Amani was surrounded by highly skilled children who could play basketball. The team played well but due to the only tall, Paul, who now represents Australia, being injured the boys lost in the first final. The following season, Amani missed selection in the 12.1s due to the coach selecting a boy from his domestic team. I remember watching the child trial as his father is a friend of Boris. Lost is the best way to describe his performance over the trials. Thus, appalled Amani joined Keilor Thunder and the Central City Breakers in 2013.

The Thunder boys were well coached and highly talented. Unfortunately, they had to play against their own lower ranked team in the final and won very comfortably.

In Amani’s first year with Central City Breakers, he played for two teams, an underage 11.5 team and a 13.4 team. Not shockingly he won the Hawthorn Basketball League 11.5 best and fairest. During the 2013/2014 summer season he was elevated into the 12.1 CCB team and they cleaned up. The following 2014 winter season, 3 boys including Amani were elevated again into the 15.1 team and despite not progressing far in the finals it was good to watch a high level of basketball. Amani rarely played in the 2014/2015 summer season due to cricket and 2015, would spell the end of basketball.

TOUCH

Touch rugby opportunities for children in Victoria are rare but Amani did play the odd game both in Melbourne and in New Zealand. Touch provides fast tactical thinking and the capacity to read and exploit gaps. I’m going to ring Victorian Touch on Monday January 13 2020 to enquire about Amani joining an A grade touch team, to work on these skills.

SEVENS

Unwittingly the sport where Amani’s skillset culminates perfectly is rugby 7s. Speed, exploiting gaps, tackling, kicking, quick tactical decision making, ambidexterity, vigilance, patience, awareness of all other players on the field, capacity to intercept the ball, strength to toss the ball great distances and knowledge of everyones strengths and weaknesses.

In 2015 after winning the under 14.B grand final against Melbourne Unicorns, the team was entered into the Bendigo 7s tournament. Amani’s future Tigers teammates would join the team and they would go all the way to the final. I’m probably bias when I state that, the worst referee ever adjudicated the match. In one of the round robin matches, Amani had clearly scored a try but the chump referee didn’t award it. Thus, the final was just wave after wave of biased calls against the team. As I stated I could be bias but, the stacked state rugby union Melbourne unicorns team won by a whisper. Ironically, I would employ the same tactic of stacking a team to win the tournament the following year. If you study the photo below, you’ll find alot of the state league team boys in it. When in Rome do as the Romans do!

2016 Toorak-Prahran Cricket Club Bendigo 7s tournament winners

Mere weeks before the 2016 Bendigo tournament, Amani’s under 14 Melbourne Unicorns team lost the grand-final against Moorabbin in the Harlequins 7s tournament. Amani and one of the Moorabbin boys both won best on ground in the final. Meanwhile, Mali and Kyle’s under 18 Northern Panthers team won the tournament.

Amani excelled in the 2015 tournament, possibly due to the Tigers boys being shy. Amani had been off the field for a minute, when his coach Fetuli asked who wanted to go on. Amani piped up first and his teammates grumbled that he’d just come off. I told them next time to seize the opportunity and speak up when the coach asks the same question. Amani’s performance at the tournament caught the eye of the State Rebels under 15 coach. Amani had trialled for the team but he wanted to leave early so he could play seniors cricket. Not surprisingly I received an email inviting him into the squad. I sent an email back saying that he had cricket commitments but after speaking with Amani, he withdrew from his Friday night cricket team and was unavailable for Sunday afternoon cricket.

RUGBY UNION

Rugby union the game that I had been grooming the boys for initially, caused me great grief and disappointment. I’d been expecting caviar and felt that I’d received mussel shells. League, Aussie Rules, basketball, cricket and soccer all operated professionally. Union was grossly lacking in that area or maybe it was the fact that Northern Panthers Rugby Union Club, where Amani joined in 2013 was impoverished, financially and of children. I was afflicted by emotional neuroticism at its best, so naturally everything went pear shape. Nothing was good enough and instead of working toward improving conditions, I made things worse. I should’ve known when a scuffle broke out in the playground with a parent threatening to hit some of the boys, that it was going to be a dog fight. However, I persevered and the boys entered a 10s competition at the beginning of the year and won.

Evala the under 14s coach wanted Amani to play in his team but he broke his arm and was sidelined. Depressed I spent the first 6 weeks of the season crying into my soggy weetbix. There were so few boys in the team and often they would need to forfeit. Disgruntled I became rancid and for the first time ever, Amani misbehaved at training, earning him a suspension that prevented him from playing in the semi-final. Only two boys turned up to play for that match, Anthony and Rhys. I was stoked at their performance. Unfortunately Amani’s exclusion caused distress within the team and they were beaten soundly.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. The boys took part in the guard of honour for the Wallabies, when the British Lions toured, due to former Panthers and current Wallaby Christian Lealiifano being in the team. The boys reaction was priceless and I read that Christian was thrilled to see the boys when he ran out. I was fortunate to meet Christian when he presented the awards at the Club’s prizegiving in 2015.

Boxed In

In 2014, there was no team for Amani due to a lack of numbers. Thus he joined the Box Hill Rugby Club, where Kyle and Mali played. I have to state that Amani playing in his own age group in B grade was a waste of time. I had asked the former President of the Melbourne Unicorns to ask for Amani to receive dispensation to play in the under 14s. He refused so he had to contend with watching Amani run singlehandedly around his team for Box Hill. When Kyle received dispensation to play for Northern Panthers under 18s at the age of 16, I knew that Nick didn’t even try. However, Amani did end up playing for the Unicorns two years later.

Kyle spent the majority of his time on the bench for the under 16s, so he lost interest and quit. Mali on the other hand as a prop was an integral part of the team. I spent a lot of time that year speeding through the streets from Armadale to Box Hill, as Rhys and Amani had PJFC footy training Wednesday afternoons and then Amani would have rugby training. Saturday mornings, I’d sprint between the various venues to drop and collect the boys. Saturday afternoons, I’d flit around Balwyn, Hawthorn and Kew for basketball.

Amani trialled unsuccessfully for the Victorian Rugby Union team in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, for some reason he trialled for the winger position, which he’d never played before. Rhys made the team and Foxy’s mum Ana and I would take turns driving him to state training. At 2014’s trial, my brothers Lance and Atene and I watched in abject horror at a very ordinary trial session. Atene coached representative rugby union in New Zealand, so he begged to be taken away. I had dropped Rhys off at the footy earlier, so I removed Amani too. I didn’t care that he didn’t make the squad that year, it was obvious that the quality of the team would be rubbish. It was the same every year that Amani was top age in the state team.

Quality vs Quantity

In 2015, I swallowed my pride and returned with Amani, Kyle and Mali to the Northern Panthers. I forgot to mention that I’d left the club in a blaze of fury, refusing to turn up to the prize-giving due to perceived grievances. My reception was tepid when I returned but I worked hard to turn that around. Once again the Northern Panthers team was severely depleted. Most games they would scrape through with the bare minimum number of boys to avoid a forfeit. Often the boys from Ivanhoe Grammar would run onto the field just as the whistle blew. Despite the lack of numbers throughout the season and even with 12 boys in the semi-final, they blitzed the opposition. The final against the Melbourne Unicorns was just a formality. Amazingly, there were 16 boys that turned up for that match.

Unicorns are magical creatures

In 2016, thanks to the Rebels Team Manager Adrian being a Unicorns man, Amani joined the team, flitting between league and rugby. Fortunately, as most of the team attended private schools, matches were held Friday night. The team manager’s son Tom is the only boy I credit with being capable of playing rugby that season. He unfortunately broke his arm, so for most of the season it was Amani vs the opposition. Clashes with footy, league and rugby training made it difficult for Amani to attend training. It was this reason that Amani failed to win the team’s B&F. Snivelling and ungrateful is how I would rate some of the parents, who barely bothered to turn up. When Amani couldn’t make a crucial match that would see them make a final due to a league final, the reception was incredulous. As team trainer I’d attended all other matches, unless Amani had representative commitments. The sniping comments that were rotated via email cemented my decision to form the Toorak-Prahran Cricket Club 7s team that relinquished 1 try for the tournament. During that tournament the Unicorns development manager spoke to me about Amani being included in their high performance squad the following year. However, that ship had sailed.

2017 presented an exciting prospect of an amalgamation between the Tigers and Panthers. In anticipation, I arranged with Jim Hallam to donate $1500 to help the team with registrations and uniforms. However, the team would need to compete Friday nights. Once opponents realised the quality of the team, they failed to endorse Friday night matches. Instead of thinking about development their fear of losing was costly. Such mindsets are the reason why the Wallabies and rugby union are in a downward spiral. I maintain even now, that to be the best, one has to play with and against the best. The losers are rugby union because the boys they failed to play against were predominantly state league boys. Some of the boys could’ve been persuaded to change codes. Suffice to say, things ended poorly.

Game changer

Let me tell you my story

Of how I lived my life in the dark

Yeah I was looking for glory

But so full of doubt

I kept jumping at the shadows

I was afraid of the dark

But the truth is much more mellow

Come lets walk in the park

Verse 1 – Me, Myself and I (10 May 2015)

Amani attended Gisborne Boys High School in the first half of 2018 and the XV coach tried punitive methods upon Amani. He didn’t understand nor did he try to help Amani academically and so Amani was penalised repeatedly for poor behaviour at school. Thus, Amani spent the majority of the time warming the XV bench or playing in the second XV. My assessment of Tom is for a huge man, he’s a pussy. I can still see him cowering in front of me the day I removed Amani from the school. I didn’t think much of the Principal either. Neither had the balls to look me in the eyes. I have stated that I did think all men are useless and I have a penchant for elucidating this quality. It’s the reason why Amani didn’t attend Manukura in Palmerston North. That and the fact that I’m a bitch!

Gisborne Boys High School form part of New Zealand Secondary School Boys top 8 rugby union teams. Tom is the national boys coach. Boys will repeat year 13 in an attempt to be noticed and selected for a quality rugby club. The boys in these teams are treated the same as super rugby. Matches are televised and the boys are royalty. My sister Roi said that Amani’s skillset was far superior to these boys but as a 16 year old, opportunities would’ve been forthcoming. Thus, preference was given to the older, albeit lesser skilled boys. Amani did state that it was a challenging competition but I know he would’ve handled himself well.

In the second half of 2018, Amani attended Chanel College in Masterton. They didn’t have a rugby team and due to provisions in New Zealand’s Education Sporting sector Amani had to play for one of the lower teams for another Masterton school. Naturally, they were rubbish but Amani did play a few matches seniors. My brother Atene had warned me that Masterton rugby was weak but that didn’t prepare me for what I saw.

Rep Rugby ……. Are you sure we’re in NZ?

Off the back of the matches I’d watched, I asked one of the parents if it was the first time their kids had played representative sport. I was assured that it wasn’t. If marking the ball is a basic 101 footy skill then the same applies in rugby. Even if the ball was covered in velcro and the boys had the appropriate gloves, it didn’t seem like they could catch the ball. The entire B grade competition played worse than Amani’s under 14 Melbourne Unicorns team and that was saying something.

Fourteen years of working tirelessly, planning everything down to the last roll of tape, had come down to this. A complete waste of fucking time, effort, energy, sacrifice and money. All of the sports had created a well-rounded athlete whom had only received the usual knocks associated with contact sport.  Amani had never had time off due to a sports injury as his development was well-balanced and engineered to perfection. Granted, psychologically my emotional neuroticism had left tell-tale signs. But, now I was well and truly broken. My involvement in Amani’s sport to date has been minimal. Although, I did clock up many cycling miles when I attended Amani’s footy matches in 2019.

The Thrill of the Fight

So many times, it happens too fast

You trade your passion for glory

Don’t lose your grip on the dreams of the past

You must fight just to keep them alive

Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

Monday January 6 2020, it truly hit me that I’d traded passion for glory a long time ago. I can remember the occasion that I’d contemplated pursuing my passion for music or develop Amani’s sporting abilities. I can see myself looking at my car dash and down further to my pedals, when I made the decision for the 3rd and final time, waiting at the lights to turn left onto High St, 200m from home. It was then I decided to suppress passion and go for glory.

The competitiveness that I had ditched in New Zealand began to course strongly through my body. Years before I had intimated for many years that Amani was so good he could afford to lose a year and still compete. That year was 2019, which I had drifted through without vision or drive. The hunted is now the hunter and, as my totem animals are the Tiger, Honeybadger and Eagle, I fancy my chances. LOL! Seriously, intelligence is now operating. The thoughts that have dominated my psyche for so long are no longer worthy of contemplation.

Risin’ up, back on the street

Did my time, took my chances

Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet

Just this girl and my will to survive

Survivor – Eye of the Tiger

Where to from here?

Does it matter? I guess this is the part, where this blog ceases to be a memoir and becomes exactly that, a blog! A reflection of the now not the past or future.

Published by Kaukau Karauria

Living life confidently

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