We Won the Cup… Hoorah!
Was it the “Greatest Day” again so soon after the last one? “Greatest days” come in all shapes and sizes. In football terms, it could be England 1966. Or East Preston Under 10s in 2019. And who could forget Sutton United just a few weeks ago! But now we celebrate with Worthing Town Ladies Football Club.
Just imagine. Burgess Hill, Sussex. A girls football tournament for girls between seven and fifteen. Six a side. 15 minute games. Split into age groups. 102 teams entered! Some for each age group. With substitutes that makes, by my mathematics, nearly one thousand young ladies who love football. A myriad of team colours. All very smart from all over Sussex and Surrey right up to Richmond inside Greater London. Women’s football has never been so popular.
For the tournament. Small pitches. Tiny goals. Penalty shoot outs if the games were drawn. An enthusiastic crowd supporting their loved ones. For this is a family affair.
Team … That is the operative word. You don’t get left out because you are not very good. You are accepted on equal terms for your enthusiasm and a wish to play football as part of a team.
Team … We have said it again. There is no place for arrogance and selfishness. No place for adults in charge (or watching) who forget the players are still children.
Team … We should all be in a team. But then we are. Quite a few. For Bobby it could be the National Trust Volunteers supporting each other to look after the countryside. The Al-Anon family groups supporting each other in difficult times.
But for one day the honour lay with Worthing Town Ladies Under 12 football team. The tournament went on all day. Some girls played in the morning and afternoon for different age groups. We know one who did and was there from 08.30 until 19.15. The one who scored 12 goals in total!
We know another who, against all the odds, saved two penalties against a very good team in the quarter finals that led to the final game. Once again against the odds the whole team played out of their skins. And the whole team won the cup. At 7:15pm, when nearly everyone had gone home. Watched by another team. The families of the players.
We agreed that it was just as exciting as England and Sutton United. But to be honest, that day in 2019 with East Preston and now with Worthing Town Ladies are days you will never forget as a family. And the children will never forget
The Day They Won the Cup.
All teams have stars and workhorses. You need both. It’s only natural that grandads have to keep their favouritism in check. So I have allowed Bobby a little indulgence in pictures later.
Words of Wisdom
(If you find this hard to read, see below for the full transcript).
Lighting a Candle for Diddley
“Football’s Coming Home” is filling the airwaves again, twenty-five years after its first incarnation. But a massive amount has happened during those intervening years. Most notably in grass roots football. 102 girls teams competing in a tournament from a small area of the south east of England is testament to this.
Each week, thousands of youngsters turn out for their local team. Train during the week. The coaches are invariably family members giving up their time for the benefit of the children. Those children are the Harry Kanes and Lucy Bronzes of tomorrow.
This blog will be posted before we know the result of the big match. But win or lose, football really has come home and it’s time to celebrate the beautiful game.
We can be Heroes. Just for one Day.
David Bowie at his very best.
Sport always makes me jump – or run – for joy.
I have never been more grateful to hear the gentle plop of a tennis ball over the net, nor the roar of a crowd after a football team has scored.
They are sounds that make me feel like everything is OK. They are hardwired into my system as thing that “should” happen at s scheduled time of year.
This summer, sport hasn’t just provided me with entertainment and joy, but with a sense of normality and routine. After so many months of life changing challenge, unexpected events and uncertainty, it has provided us with a huge sense of relief, whether we are sports fans or not.
And what we have to remember is that the incredible power of sport is not just on our television screens, and isn’t just for professional athletes. It is for all of us. And the younger we start to get involved in being active, the better. It is a tool for life that we can all use to stay well – for our minds and our bodies and our lives.
I was in my school sports teams and carried it on through University. But then I started working and, for a while, sport got squeezed out. Although I did bits and pieces I forgot what it gave me, until a particularly stressful period when I was working really hard and needed an outlet. I put on my trainers and just started running. Slowly but surely, just as sport had been squeezed out before, it re-established itself in my life. I have never let it go again.
Getting active gives us so much, it is impossible to list everything, but I have picked some things that we can apply in our own lives.
Sport requires hard work and a determination to practise, to form skills and to perfect those skills. It teaches us that hard work does indeed pay off. Even if things don’t go our way, or if obstacles slow us down, the one thing we can control is our reaction to them and our ability carry on no matter what.
Mind and Body
Our minds are powerful instruments and sometimes our thoughts can take us over completely, ruminating on worries and over-analysing. Sport teaches us that our bodies are an outlet for that stress. They will work for us to help us stay in the present moment.They will move for us and help us to have a much-needed break from our minds. Sport also shows us how amazing our bodies are-what they can do and how they can perform. Sport gives us a new-found level of appreciation for our bodies, and encourages us to look after them.
Sport gives us the opportunity to help manage our inner critic. Self-doubt. self-criticism and lack of confidence have an impact on us all, no matter who we are. When we notice that “inner critic” telling us that we can’t do something, sport gives us a way to build our confidence through all those good feeling chemicals that are released through being active and building a skill.
Sport gives incredible joy and entertainment-whether that’s participating in it, watching it, or supporting others. Getting active acts by refilling us when our energy is low, and gives us opportunities to bond through winning and losing, through human stories and experience.
Sport brings people together, within schools, local communities, across countries, cultures and the world. We have all seen the power of sport in helping people come together to stand against injustice and for positive change. Sport really can change lives. And if it can change individuals’ lives then, in turn, it can change the world.
So if there is one thing you do today, get involved in sport in any which way you can.
Dr Radha Modgil for “i” newspaper.