Day 7: The Power of Sports
After hearing of Robin’s death, I thought why not talk about the affects of bullying, after all I experienced it in my early years, especially until grade 4. But instead of focusing on being a victim, today lets focus on the “power of sports.”
You see it was pretty nasty time growing up, looking different and being the only Indian kids at school. Instead of recess being a happy occasion, I had to cope with racism and yard fights. Instead of coming to school and especially leaving home being a safe walk, my siblings and had to run from local gangs and kids from a nearby Catholic school. On one occasion they ran right up to our house. My father was home and he got so upset that he ran after them with a baseball bat. They are lucky because I’m sure he would’ve knocked one over his head. Unfortunately, that was the extent of my father’s involvement at school. Not knowing English, ignorant to the school system having never been schooled himself, he spent his time providing for the 7 of us and connecting with his spirit.
Fortunately for me, on one fateful day, in grade 4 I felt compelled to try out for the school soccer team, made up from kids from grade 4 to 6. I was surpised when I saw my name on the list and that I had made it. No one could have ever predicted that this would change my life. The biggest transformation occurred amongst my school mates. I was no longer the misfit who didn’t fit in this white dominant school. Instead, I was now part of “the team”. Instead of having to fight at recess, I finally got to play soccer with “friends” who “protected” me from the bullies.
I still remember, one time playing soccer after school, an older boy from a local “gang” tried to pick on me. My Chinese friend “Quang Min” (sp?) who knew karate stepped in and gave a hard back-kick to that boy in the stomach. Before it got real intense another “white” tough guy “Stephen” played peace maker and told the other guys to leave. This was in grade five and finally felt great coming to school.
On reflection I have wondered how things would have turned out if I wasn’t good at playing sports. But I’m grateful for these gifts and over the years they have given me some of the best keep sake memories. Like the one in grade 8. Our soccer team was really, really bad. We had lost every game and didn’t score a goal the entire season. Until, one game a team-mate crossed the ball into the middle and I one timed it, into the net. I can still remember how we celebrated the goal, how we jumped and cheered as if we just won the world cup. Later we joked how pathetic we were and that was the only goal we scored in our eight games.
Over the past years, my son’s Amar and Balraaj and my daughter KJ have also game me some awesome soccer goal memories. I can still remember one tournament in Ajax, where Amar, knocked in two goals, back to back, from free kicks into the top left and the the top right side of the nets. That day the rain just poured down on us and the parents wondered what cool-aid I had fed Amar! 🙂 I still remember walking back to the car, realizing that I accidentally left my moon-roof open, after all it was a hot sunny summer day, and well, my leather seats were just drenched! No big deal, part of being a soccer dad! 🙂
Finally, I remember a few years back playing in an adult league. Us old guys weren’t expected to win against the younger teams in our division. We did place third in our group and the first place team had beat us a few times during the season. We faced off in the finals with had no rest period between our semi-finals match that we won. This time, I scored the winning goal with a few minutes left. We had a corner it bounced off a team mate “Marlin” and I took the ball from the right side and placed it in the top corner of the net. It happened so fast, the goalie had no time to react. And yes, old guys did celebrate! We held them off the last few minutes and hell yeah we won the trophy! 🙂 My team mate “Marlin” and “I” were very competitive in the goal scoring department and though he scored a few more in the regular season, I was able to one up him by reminding him, I got him the championship 🙂
This is the power of sports. Connecting us to each other. Allowing us to share in a communal celebrations of joy and defeat. For me, it had a far greater life changing experience as a kid. Thankfully, my kids don’t have to experience the same. However, I have noticed because their good, school kids do say nice things to them and want to be their friends. Plus they are pretty confident in themselves! 🙂
What about you? What one event changed your life for the best?
Thanks for reading and sharing in my experiences. I appreciate your comments and sharing your own. Thank you! Cheers.