My son Toby plays Rugby Union. He loves his footy. He is fanatical about his sport and Rugby at the moment is the top of his list. He sleeps with his rugby ball. He lives for Friday night training and the Saturday game.
In his competition Toby is always the smallest guy on the field. I estimate that some of the players in the other teams would be almost double his weight and half his height again. Toby’s position is hooker. This means that he is always in the midst of the action.
Every week I watch him get punished by the opposition. He is small enough for most of the other guys to easily knock him down. Every time he gets the ball and doesn’t manage to offload he gets flattened. But, he never stops getting into the rucks, tackling, looking for the ball and loving the game.
The other week his team played a particularly competitive team. Their coach had obviously done a lot of work with them and they were big, fast and aggressive (a lot like their coach actually).
I watched as Toby got jersey slung to the ground by one of the opposition and then jumped on by another player. As he tried to get up the player started punching him.
Toby barely gave him a second glance as the other guy swung into mid air. Toby was already on his way running back the game. The opposition player was letting his team down because he had lost his focus on the main game.
In the end I am not sure who won or lost this game. I do know that our guys played with their hearts. I, like every other proud Dad that day felt my heart swell as I watched my boy play to his full potential against a bigger, faster and stronger team.
Three important lessons I have learned about teamwork after watching from my son’s footy games:
1. Keep your eye on the ball – In the words of Steven Covey, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. When the other guy wanted to throw a punch Toby was already running to the next ruck. He was focussed on the game and wasn’t going to be distracted from the main thing.
2. What the ref says goes even though he may not be always right.
We all need to get used a few bad calls in life. The ref is human and can only view the game through his perspective. I have seen games of footy where parents have actually gone onto to the playing field to abuse the ref for a bad call. I wonder to myself what sort of lessons the players learning from the adults’ behaviour.
Any learning requires some adjustment of our prior understandings. Learn to ask the question and then get on with the task at hand.
We appreciate the feedback that we get in our Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. We are constantly looking at ways to improve. And, sometimes we get it wrong. This is true for anyone who wants to learn. We can try to justify ourselves to the person who is making the call or we can get on and learn the lesson.
3. My feedback on the game is very important to my son.
One of the most important parts of Toby’s footy game is at the end when he asks me how he went. My feedback matters to Toby. He needs me to watch him and give him advice.
This I think is the most important lesson I have learned. That going to the footy every week is one of my most valuable inputs I have into my son’s life. When he asks me, “did I run forward this week, Dad”? My affirmation is vital for Toby. He needs to know that he has done exactly what I asked and I love watching his face light up when he is told he did well.
Learning is about growth. We only understand ourselves when we others take the time to give us feedback.
You can probably tell that I am quite a proud Dad. I love the way that my son is developing and I feel a great responsibility in ensuring that he is equipped to grow into a responsible adult. I am continually learning about how to become a better parent and am looking for ways that I can grow my understanding of my children.
Rudyard Kipling says it so well in his poem, “If”,
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!