Wales International Under 25’s Squad
Yes! I almost forgot the pinnacle of his Wheelchair Basketball Career!!
SACK THE MAMA!! LOL
The Boy hung up his hopes of playing for the Great Britain Men’s team, his epilepsy was too unstable for him to commit to the rigorous training schedule they maintained and the gruelling travel schedule, but as time went on and he returned to the Bball courts for his home team(s) on a regular basis and ramped up his training sessions, his epilepsy stabilized for a time. We learned how to deal with the absences and we had managed to reduce the impacts of stress to a point where he would only experience a few absences a month now instead of 20 or 30.
Life became more like it was supposed to be for him, fast paced, high octane, full on wheelchair basketball and no apologies or regrets. Just living in the moment and loving the hell out of it and life. For both of us.
By now, I was in the second year of my happily divorced state and I had changed tremendously. I had relaxed! I had stopped having to micromanage every single moment in case it upset the now ex husband, and just concentrate solely on the boy and keeping him well balanced and healthy. His ‘happy’ has always come from deep inside him, as it should.
It was around the time of his 22nd birthday that the Welsh International Coach approached The Boy’s Coach and put forward the request for any and all Welsh players over 19 and under 25 to go to South Wales for trials to be selected for the Under 25’s Squad and represent their Country in an upcoming Celtic Cup Tournament to be held in Northern Ireland.
The Boy’s Club Coach made the suggestion to him and his face when he heard those words… oh my goodness! I still get choked up just thinking about the look on his face. A light that had not been present in him for a good few years, suddenly came back on and it shone from him. He was positively beaming!
Then the worries and a long hard discussion came, he, his Coach and I, discussed at great length the implications of his epilepsy on his long term ability to play at International level and I can tell you this, The Boy schooled us both in the lesson of expectation versus reality.
He said, ‘I am not looking at a long term life commitment here, I am looking at one Golden opportunity to play at International Level and take my game as far as I can, as high as I can reach and for just one tournament at a time. I have no greater expectations of this opportunity than one tournament! I’m going in for the trials, will you support my decision?’
YES!!! HELL YES!!! Both his coach and I were humbled and awed at the level headedness of his thinking and of course, the Man he had now become. My Boy was a Man any mother would be proud off but especially me because I made him! (The gave birth sort of made him, not made his career, that was his own doing!)
He sent an email to the Welsh Coaching team to express his interest in trying out for the squad and he was sent an invitation to attend the first set of trials/training sessions.
We packed bags, brought his chair up to tip top condition, new tyres, straps, castors etc and we were travelling from the North to the South within a matter of weeks. His first sessions were brilliant! No absences, no illness just pure focus and sheer exhilaration that he was here, he was doing this and nothing was going to stop him.
He attended both days of trials which were 7 hours of training each day and returned home with dates for the next set of trials in two weeks time! He had gotten over the first hurdle! He was on his way up the ranks!
During the interim two weeks he attended every training session the Club put on. I want to put this into a little perspective, The Boy had changed Clubs at 19 due to bullying taking place courtside during matches and during training sessions. Favouritism and nepotism had shown its ugly face in what used to be a great club and the camaraderie that used to be present had been chipped away. Things came to a head when I witnessed one of the senior players pushing the boy around on the courtside. He is very non-confrontational and would not retaliate at all, so I did and that is where I shall leave that.
I then gave him the opportunity to change clubs and join a club where he could be happy and feel like he belonged again. He jumped at the chance and so now we travelled for 70 minutes to do a 120 minute training session and then drive for 70 minutes to get home again. We did this three times a week (sometimes 4) most weeks during the game season, 2 training sessions, 1 or 2 matches depending if both teams had a game on the same day. It was worth it, the difference in the Boy was immense. I would rather drive the extra mileage than give someone an opportunity to destroy his confidence! The bully had been dealt with too, I made sure of it.
Two weeks passed really quickly and before long we were back in South Wales attending another 14 hours of training. At the end of those sessions, the squad was selected and the Boy was moved to tears when his name was called out as a member of the Wales International Under 25’s Squad.
He managed to hold his tears in check, I couldn’t, I was openly and proudly crying like a baby! He had done it, he had reached the lofty heights of International Player Status! Now the real work would begin and he was more than ready for the challenge!
THAT’S MY BOY!!!!
To be continued… (This story is far too long for one post…)
In order to protect the Boy’s identity, I have not included any personal photographs of his time playing wheelchair basketball. But, just in case anyone is interested, the red image of a player shooting at the top of the post is actually the silhouette of a superb Canadian International player called Patrick Anderson, who is by far and away (in my humble opinion) the World’s BEST Wheelchair basketball player, ever! Many of the up and coming stars of the future have followed Pat’s career and wish to emulate him and his skill on the basketball court. He is a fine advocate for fair play and is a true gentleman of the game and also of life. It is a pleasure to be able to use the image. Look him up on Youtube! Be truly awed!