Scoring the winning goal ...
Whilst walking the dog the other day I watched a kid take pot shots for goal at the park. At least, I think that’s what he was doing. He had a footy, and he was taking his time booting it into a tree that if you squinted your eyes at hard enough, could have been goal posts. There was a low slung branch that looked a lot like an upright post.
The way he went about each kick brought back some extremely fond memories. He’d deliberately place the ball onto a mound of sandy mulch, taking his time to get the angle of the ball just ‘so’. Then he’d nestle his foot behind the ball, making sure it was just the right height, and get ready to kick. There were three long, occasionally wobbly steps backward, then two to the right.
This kid would look at the tree, then the ball, and back to the tree again. His hands were outstretched and stiff, arms bent at the elbow, yet he stood toy soldier straight. A last look at the tree, a deep breath, eyes on the ball and he coiled himself like a cat before taking off and hammering the ball into the tree for a goal. He was at it for ages.
And even though I didn’t ask him, I know he was kicking to win the world cup. I just knew it, the same as I stood on our driveway with a Sherrin footy and kicked the mighty Demons to their first premiership since before I was born. The same as my sister rode her big fat horse Twiggy over the final jump to win a Grand National and my older brother filled in for Mark Knopfler in Dire Straits and sent the crowd into a frenzy with his red, Fender Stratocaster and sweaty tennis headband.
In our day, I was Evel Kinevil. Every time I jumped my pushy I was actually on a red white and blue dirt bike leaping over a dozen London buses or the Grand Canyon. It was the coolest. Really. To be honest, it was even more fun on my own because I could fully emerge myself in the game. You know? Rev the handgrip, wave at the crowd, blow kisses to my legion of fans. Oh, you laugh, but you did something similar, too. And it was the best fun.
And, it’s paramount we foster the creativity of our own kids so they can enjoy the stuff of made up play the way we did. Active minds make active kids, and what’s better than seeing our kids out and about and being active. When kids learn to harness their imagination, even the most monotonous games can take on great excitement.
I suppose it can be hard for parents some times when our kids look as if they’re complete dreamers, living in a parallel universe of enormous crowds and nail-biting finishes. There’s the temptation to tell our kids to ‘get fair dinkum’ and stop messing about.’
The bigger concern is that kids won’t let their minds and games wander into other worlds where they can be the champion or the king or whatever. I understand that video games and TV have a place for kids, but nothing will replace the joy of pure play.
It’d be great to be able to tell our ten-year-olds of the games we used to play at their age, the stars we were, the tournaments we won. I was either Robbie Flower playing for Melbourne or Jeff Thompson.
Do you remember who you were, and what was your biggest win? Discuss on the Essential Kids Forums.
Did you know that nearly half of Aussie kids don’t play every day? Head to facebook.com/MILOAusNz to support the Play Movement, an initiative to inspire Aussie families to incorporate active play in each and every day.