The Ultimate Sporting Moment

Sport has always made me cry. Be it James Hird’s goal against West Coast when he hugs the supporter in the crowd, or the winning shot in a tennis tournament when the player falls to the ground in joy, or witnessing efforts of sheer determination and strength – a marathon runner battling through great pain to continue metre by metre. Don’t even start me on the waterworks that occur when a sportsperson stops to help their opponent, John Landy style.

A sporting montage (especially with dramatic or inspired music) therefore reduces me to a blubbering mess. When the Olympics come around and every ad break is preceded by an amazing montage, or the One Day Cricket Season with those slow motion highlights – my eyes are welling up every 5 minutes.

Watching pilgrims arrive at the Cathedral Square is Santiago de Compostela is the ultimate sporting tear jerker. So, I know that completing a religious pilgrimage is not exactly a sport, but it is the final moment of a great feat – the Camino can be the most challenging thing in a person’s life – testing one’s endurance and strength, both physically and mentally.

I cried last time when I arrived at the Cathedral in 2007.

This time I did not.

At least not until I watched some other pilgrims enter the square. One large group came in clapping and cheering, some of them hobbling along, and then after this group (not on the video, I’m sorry!), one lady, being supported by two friends on either side of her, came in, crying.

And then I started.

(I even cried watching the movie about the Camino. The Way, 2010 – good movie).

Pilgrims you meet on the Camino don’t necessarily tell you their reason for walking. Some may not have a reason for walking. But there are many, many stories behind pilgrims’ journeys, and just hearing one or two gives you an idea about the motivation driving some people along The Way. Some walk in memory of people they’ve lost, some walk to get away from their ‘normal’ lives, some walk because they want to test themselves, some knowing that they are injured or sick, and will perhaps have to stop before the end.

So watching the final moments of the Camino, even those of someone you have never, and will never meet, is an emotional thing to see. Even walking the path between the Cathedral and our hotel while in the city, pilgrims would pass us, mere minutes away from the end of their immense journey. Even this I could not watch without some dust getting caught in my eye. (One day, an amazing Opera pair were singing under the archway at the entrance to the Square, turning the scene of entering pilgrims into a brilliant, tear-jerking, real-life montage.)

And who knows, when I walked into the square, with my beaming face and excited steps, and grabbed Troy for a hug and a kiss of congratulations, maybe, someone, somewhere in the square – another pilgrim, or a tourist on a guided tour – might have been watching, and reached for a tissue.

P.S.  I nearly even started crying when I was editing this post, thinking about the crying.

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Your little girl wants to play cricket for Australia – tell her to get her scoring sheet ready

It certainly looks like a sporting match of International standards. The players – athletic, powerful, talented – are wearing the recognisable, Green and Gold, authorised uniforms of our country, and are the best of our country at cricket, having passed rigorous selection and undertaking regimes of hard training. This team is the current Twenty Twenty Cricket World Cup leaders.

Hang on – I hear you say, are the Aussies  the current T20 World Champions?

Yes, they are.

No, ENGLAND won in 2010, I hear you whine.

Ahh, yes, our men. But our women beat New Zealand last year.

So, our women are playing in Canberra, against England, in their spiffy uniforms, representing our country. One of our girls is such a sporting masterpiece, she plays in our Soccer Team, AND our Cricket Team. Did you know that?

The first ball is played, and I’m thinking… where are the spectators? Also, why is there no square leg umpire? After about 4 balls, the crowds can be seem swarming into the seats. Why, I wonder, has the stadium gate organisation been so poor that spectators couldn’t even be admitted before the first ball?

The ABC cross to their ‘on the ground’ commentary team, comedians and social commentators “The Chasers”, and a young woman who would be better placed on Video Hits. (To be fair, ABC Grandstand give great coverage, professional commentary in the box, and did eventually get the little running score tally up in the top left of the screen.)

The video hits girl is talking to one of our Southern Stars, who is sitting on the sidelines, having already batted, sandwich in one hand, scoring sheet in the other, marking down the scores, balls and overs as they pass and accumulate.

Hang on…!? One of our top order batswomen is SCORING? WHY oh why – can women’s cricket not even afford to have a NON-PLAYER keep the team’s record of the scores?

Oh the shame… Pick up your act Australia, and support women’s sport.

Over the fence

The dragonflies hover around my plastic cup filled with wine, as it sits, nestled in an obliging grass tuft. I need both my hands free, and I tuck my summer dress into my undies for optimum leg movement, and lets face it, to feel more like one of the boys – and less girlish. The bowler runs in, and the tennis ball rockets towards the man at gully, who throws his stubby unecessarily far from his body, and dives for an amazing catch. He is up rescuing his frothing frothy within seconds, to the cheers of the rest of us.

It’s New Year’s, and we are not gate crashers – but not quite well acquainted with the hosts. And, sitting around somewhat awkwardly, considering the six or so hours left of forced interaction – we jumped the fence, into the newly mown reserve, set up two chairs for wickets, and the cricket game was on.

There’s something about sport – and I’m no sporting fanatic – but there is definately something about involving a group of people you don’t know from a bar of soap to step up to bat, bowl, field or keep to improve any situation not quite conducive to good communication. It’s not that the party wasn’t good – it’s just that early period of a gathering where noone is quite drunk enough for free talking, and people like me – who get restless and bored a bit too easily, need something to do.

There’s amazing batting knocks, great catches, and a suprisingly extensive reportoire of Barmy Army chants to keep the game raucous and interesting, and some of the locals even stop to watch from their evening dog walks. Our group is about 15 people strong, the grass is prickle, and relatively broken glass free, and the esky has been transported to just over the fence, for easy pass over by spectators still on the house side.

The next ball flies high towards me, and after what seems an eternity, lands snugly in my hands as the entire fielding side screams “CATCH IT!! CATCH IT – GOT HIM!!”

My boyfriend runs up to me, “I love you baby… but not as much as I loved that catch!” Lovely.

I’m up for a bat.

“‘Ere we go! EASY WICKET!” The wicket keeper absorbs my death look as I step up to bat – “I hope that comment was based on my batting ability, and not my gender, Robo.”

Robo laughs, and doesn’t even bother to put down his beer as the bowler runs in. I try to remember everything the boys always tell me, I angle the bat, take a swing, hit – and run with the sounds of Robo’s suprised groan behind me, as it goes for four.

Next ball I’m out, but the sun is setting, and we abandon the game for poor light.

Happy New Year’s.

Why sometimes it’s good to lose

England retain the ashes. Oh the disappointment. Oh the sheer indignity of it all. We have lost. Lost! Hang on – we are Australia, the greatest cricketing nation in the world, the greatest SPORTING nation in the world. We can’t NOT be the best at ANYTHING. What is happening? Oh the shame.

Sometimes, we just have to lose. For a nation of people inclined to cut down tall poppies in any sphere, we should be happy – shouldn’t we? England played a fair, good (better) game, and they deserved to win.

And so now, how quickly we will shout out for a shake up of the squad, the sacking of our captain, and call for new talent, to rejuvinate and resurrect our team in order to retain the little urn that stands for so much between our country and our colonial Mother land.

In my hardcore Church-going days, someone said that God needs to break you down, so that you can rebuild yourself stronger than ever. We cannot always win, we cannot always be the best in the world at everything, and we cannot raise the children of our nation to just expect to win and be successful, just because it seems we always have been. Any success requires hard work and determination. England demonstrated this, and, now that we have lost, young Australians can feel that defeat, feel that disappointment, and look forward to a new, refreshing Australian side to once again work towards world domination.

For those of my generation who have grown up watching, and expecting, the consistent success of the likes of Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Gilchrist, the Waugh brothers, Hussey and McGrath, we will just have to suck it up, move on, and admit defeat.

But dang it they should have just brought Warnie back.