Sunday. The last footy game for the year. I had the honour of thanking all the players for their efforts, commitment and development over the season. I was so proud of each and every one of them.
At the beginning of the year, I challenged them to become better men before becoming better footballers. The foundation for this would be a commitment to taking responsibility, showing respect and keeping things real. Responsibility for their actions. Respect for their teammates, parents, friends and all humans. Real, not being afraid to put their hand up and reach out if they need help.
While we finished at the bottom of the ladder, in so far as growth and personal development, in my eyes we finished well on top. For me, this was a far more significant achievement than any other accolade.
I want to speak about a moment that took place on Sunday that will remain with me for life. A dad of one of the boys waited for me outside the clubrooms after the game. He approached me, put out his hand and said thank you. He became quite emotional. This dad who was hurting. It took courage to express such emotions. Placing my hand on his shoulder, we distanced ourselves from the people, to talk. He couldn’t stop thanking me for the difference I had made in his son’s life and for the support given.
The family had been through a very difficult time. The mother confided in me a couple of months ago detailing her concern for her son given the gut-wrenching circumstances that devastated the family. She asked me to look out for her boy. To which I made a commitment to.
I am no medical professional. I do not have qualifications in any form of psychology. This situation taught me that you don’t need much to make a difference. You only need to be you. Genuinely caring and following through on what you say makes the world of difference. During the year, this boy progressed and at times regressed, but the constant was the right support.
There are many people grieving and going through difficult times. Behind every troubled person is a concerned parent, relative or friend. The impact goes beyond the individual directly impacted. Remember this. Wholeness and well-being require us to look beyond the person.
So, I write to remind you of this, we all have an obligation to each other. Never be short in extending a hand. Embracing a human. Be on the lookout and be courageous enough to ask the question, “How are you doing?” It could be the start of a life-changing moment…