The Boy reaches his Peak!
So, I left you with The Boy’s acceptance into the Welsh U’25s International Squad and the gruelling training sessions he was about to undergo. To say he was excited would be putting it mildly! He was ecstatic! As was I, but my own excitement was slightly tainted because his father had gotten wind of The Boy’s elevation to International Status and had decided he would be riding coat tails again. I asked the Boy how he felt about the whole situation and once again, he schooled me in the art of adulting!
He sat me down and looked me straight in the eyes, ‘Mum, if he wants to waste his time, money and effort travelling across to Ireland then that’s his prerogative. I don’t have to speak to him or acknowledge him. Neither do you. He’s just a spectator in the crowd. As long as I can see you there, nothing else matters! It’s our sport, we earned this, and nothing is going to stop us from enjoying it!’
Okay. That’s me told. I was with him all the way on the not speaking to the idiot. It didn’t quite go to plan but I kept him away from The Boy. The trip over to Ireland on the Ferry was an interesting one. The Boy had flown over with the squad and I went via ferry to transport various kit, basketball chair, spares etc and the car of course. I can’t be without my car. Makes for a quick getaway when the shit hits the fan! Which it does, frequently, whenever the idiot is within shouting distance of me. Which was unfortunate because he was on the ferry too. At one point I did consider pushing him over the side into the sea when he was acting like a complete idiot and was standing on the second rail waving his arms about, but too many people were around and watching. He was very lucky. I walked away from him shaking my head and went for coffee and locked myself in my cabin with a book.
I arrived in Ireland and drove across to the tournament venue. (Yes, I left the idiot at the ferry terminal to make his own way to the venue. I owe him nothing, especially not a free lift.)
The Boy was waiting in the hotel lobby for me, he had his Welsh Kit on and he looked so proud of himself I wanted to cry! I took copious amounts of photographs and we had a good laugh with the rest of the squad and their families for the rest of the evening.
The following morning, it was down to business. I sat down in the spectators stands as far away from the idiot as I could, sandwiched between the parents and families of the other squad members! The first match was scheduled to Tip off at 10 am and was between Scotland and Ireland. Then came a stumbling block. The referees were talking with officials in a huddle by the table officials table. Arms were being waved about randomly, heads were being shaken, and then a tap on my shoulder came. It was the organiser of the tournament.
‘We need a level 2 Table official to officiate the matches or the tournament cannot go ahead. The table official who was supposed to preside has called in this morning saying he is sick and cannot take part. We don’t have another official. The referees tell me you are qualified, would you please consider tabling the tournament with the two level One officials assisting?’
Gobsmacked much? Okay, I have tabled my fair share of games, but never at this level and I don’t mind telling you, I was crapping myself! But, the tournament was indeed in jeopardy if I refused. Contrary to popular belief, officials for the amazing game of wheelchair basketball are thin on the ground, so scaring up another suitably qualified official from the home ground at this late stage would prove to be nigh on impossible! So, they gave me an official shirt and a coffee (imperative piece of kit the coffee) and off I went to become the table official for the Celtic Cup Tournament.
The Boy broke rank before the match started and came and hugged me, he was beaming! It really was our sport and now we were both taking part in his first International game. The downside to me being on the table was I was not allowed to cheer, but the other family members were aware of my THAT’S MY BOY! war cry and every time he scored they shouted it out in unison for me! I think everyone combined was nearly as loud as I would have been had I been able to cheer!
The end of the first day of games saw Wales in a strong position running just behind Scotland who were the most awesomely well oiled machine I have ever watched! Wales had their work cut out for them, but they went back to the hotel undaunted and in high spirits.
I went back exhausted but happy! No major cock ups from the table so I could sleep easy! Tomorrow was the finals and it was Wales Vs Scotland!
Tomorrow dawned bright and early and the Boy was up, breakfasted and out and already on the court warming up. His match was tipping at 1pm and you could feel the anticipation in the air. Parents, friends and general spectators were taking their seats and watching the training session like it was a match! Every basket that went swish brought a smattering of applause, every basket missed brought a collective ‘Aww’ from the steadily growing crowd.
My table squad were ready, set up and raring to go. I was less raring and had reached a basic acceptance of I had 30 minutes to drink as much coffee as possible and learn how to keep my mouth shut through this most important of matches! I mentioned my concern in passing to one of the referees for the match. He was laughing with me because he remembered my war cry from an earlier match at one of the junior national championship games, he said I had made him jump when I let out my ‘roar’ as he described it. He wandered off to chat with the other refs and came back five minutes later beaming at me.
I raised my eyebrow in question, and he said ‘I’ve had a chat with the others, and because under normal circumstances you would have been in the stands cheering your boy and his team on, we see no reason to prevent you from ‘roaring’ should he score a basket! Least we can do seeing as you’ve done the table all weekend! The Organiser for the tournament was also in agreement! I was ecstatic! I could cheer The Boy on! YES!!
It may sound a little odd and such a small thing to anyone reading this, but let me tell you, when you are in the middle of a high octane, fast paced, free flowing basketball match and it’s your boy who has the ball and is preparing to shoot, you forget rules and regulations, you forget you are a table official, you forget you are anything other than the boy’s proud mama and you ROAR when that net swishes and he has scored! You don’t have a choice! It has to happen.
The Final match was upon us. Scotland came on court first, from tallest to smallest in the straightest line ever and they lined up on the left of centre. Wales came on court from smallest to tallest and lined up in a straight line to the right of centre. National Anthems were played and flags were raised with Pride. The tallest player from each squad went to the centre for the tip, 5 players from each team went to bench and the remaining 4 each took up their defensive positions. The referee raised the ball…
It dropped and Scotland took the tip! The game was ON!!
Fast and furious, the first quarter flew by, I ran commentary for the table, they wrote down every word, scores flew onto the board with increasing speed, but the boy was yet to get his name on the score sheet. The first quarter buzzer sounded and the whistle blew. Both teams withdrew to their benches and coaches and huddled for 2 minutes discussing team strategy and tactics. The score board read, Scot. 24 Wales 20
Scotland had possession of the ball and it was rolled in to their forward, the Boy cut across and behind and swiped the ball out of the players hand as soon as his fingers touched. Wales had possession, that Boy took off like his life depended on it, he skidded to a halt at the three point line and the ball went up, flew from the tips of his fingers and swished! IT’S ALL NET!! OH MY GOD!! THREE POINTER!! THAT’S MY BOY!!!
Yeah, the other table officials were slightly shocked, but the referees laughed as they signalled basket good, and the game continued. I was grinning like a cheshire cat! More baskets came, some flew off the rim, bounced hard of the backboard, ran off the court, airballed the backboard, but most of those puppies went straight down and through the net. It was without doubt one of the most exciting games I have ever had the good fortune to watch, and my boy was in the thick of it! I was one proud Mama! More important than all of that, He was one Proud BOY!!
The final buzzer sounded and the final whistle blew. The score was Scotland 60 Wales 56.
First time out for Wales as an International Squad for the Under 25’s had netted them a Silver Medal! They could hold their heads up high and be proud, they had played hard and fast right to the wire. No one could have asked them for more! As much cheering and celebrating went on for our Welsh squad as it did for Scotland who were the stronger team on the day. It was huge smiles and hugs all round.
So, we returned semi triumphant from the Boy’s first and as it turns out, only International Tournament. He played hard and he played fast for another season with his club but his health was deteriorating rapidly and he was ill more than he was well which left him with no option but to hang up his basketball wheels for good. I was so sad to see him make this decision. He could have been filled with bitterness, he could have been filled with anger at his lot, instead he smiled and said, 15 years playing the best sport ever, reaching the top of my game, playing for my Country, and retiring as a Celtic Cup Silver medalist is enough for me. I need to get well Mum. We need a rest.
That’s my boy people, of whom I am most proud.
This is the last post I will write for the Boy, I have run the length and breadth of his story as seen through my eyes and felt in my heart. In my minds eye, I can see every triumph, every failure, every sickness, every climb back to good health. The battle is still on for his good health, we will win the war. That basket is ours and it will be all NET!
Thank you for reading about my perfectly imperfect son and best friend.