Yesterday DS1 participated in his first rugby tournament, the HSBC Dubai Rugby Festival, at 7he Sevens grounds. To date he has had all of 3 sessions of rugby with the Dubai Exiles and is pretty crazy about the game.
As we drove through dense fog along the Al Ain road, he couldn’t contain his excitement, the thought of winning a trophy almost catapulting him through the car roof in the direction of the moon! It is very difficult to try to divert an excited 7 year old’s ambitions of glory to the mundane details of reality. During last week’s rugby session, DS1 was chosen to play for the 3rd team. Being a novice at the sport, that was to be expected. He would be up against stronger sides where victory was less likely. DS1 didn’t mind. He was playing on a team, in a competition with the chance of winning something.
When we arrived at the grounds they were bustling with colour, and what felt like a million kids running around in their sponsored rugby kits and boots. Pop up sun shades and gazebos lined the pitches, foldable chairs reserved the much coveted shaded spots. Large cooler boxes told me that we should be settling in for the day. With up to 3,000 kids (boys and girls) playing in the tournament, accompanied by siblings, parents, grandparents, that wasn’t a surprise.
The first game was a case of nerves and confusion. I did wonder if the coaches had forgotten to relay vital information to the kids about the sport, the most important one being, the ball must be passed backwards. For the first half DS1 was a sub, waiting on the sidelines. When he got to play in the 2nd half, he ran his little heart out, chased, harried, attacked, defended and scored! I, as usual, was very vocal in my support. DH usually nudges me to let me know I should take it down a decibel or 10 but I can’t help it. This time neither could he as he bellowed technical instructions from the sidelines.
Game 2 – DS1’s performance in the first game guaranteed him his full time spot in the second. The confidence shooed away nerves, and as they lined up to start, they looked ready to do business. And that they did. DS1 dodged, sprinted, weaved and tagged. He scored 2 tries. I was hoarse by the end of the match.
Game 3 – This was always going to be a tough one. The Exiles 3rd team playing the 1st side of the Hurricanes. On paper – an uneven battle; David v Goliath. Fuelled by adrenalin and confidence our little Davids took the game to Goliath. Undeterred by the opposition’s speed, strength and experience, they didn’t give up. They put some points on the board and probably did the best a side a that level could do against the 1st side.
They played well enough to make it to the quarter finals of the Plate. Unfortunately, I had to dash off to taxi DD to a birthday party. I didn’t want to leave. I was having so much fun. It was invigorating to watch these kids enjoy the game, give it their all, and bond over a sport they clearly enjoyed. DS1 just seemed to be improving before my very eyes. My heart was bursting with pride. It’s moments like these when I am overcome with pure emotion. Very little can match seeing your child do something he clearly loves and which brings him so much joy. It always reminds me about the endless possibilities that await them.
3 hours after I left DH called to let me know DS1’s team had been knocked out. At 4-4 (3 tries courtesy of DS1), the Muscat Pirates threw the ball over the line and the ref blew the whistle to confirm a try and end the game. 7 little hearts broken, 7 exhausted warriors walked off the pitch to collect their participation medals. Not quite the trophy of which DS1 had dreamed but still better than nothing.
Thankfully after a candy floss, a coke and a ‘heart to heart’ with Daddy DS1 bounced back. Focusing on replaying the games, how well he played, the compliments he received for his ‘natural’ talent, helped him push the upset to the back of his mind.
As DH and I watched the recording of the games last night, we laughed at the times when DS1 seemed more intersted in road testing my high heels than kicking a ball, no matter what shape! How times change…….