Patrolling the sidelines during winter sports requires courage, discipline and luck.
Courage is the ability to master fear, not the absence of it. Discipline is the bridge from dreams to reality.
And luck is the offer from your other half to score at netball the other day, in the face of a Pasha Bulker-type squall.
That offer had special significance because being official scorer at netty has several responsibilities, the main one being that under no circumstances can you leave the sideline.
Even if it’s raining horizontal from a front that has moved up from the Antarctic, and the windcheater you’ve brought is not water proof.
Those circumstances demand the type of courage and discipline not necessarily required of scorers in, say, cricket, or basketball or darts. They generally get to tally under cover, with maybe a hot chocolate.
The weather had been somewhat sunny before the game, but there certainly had been portentous puddles laying around.
It was perhaps this meteorological misread that led one party to offer to score, seeing as the other had done so another weekend.
That other weekend had been sunny, as I recall, so the “cross to bear”, hadn’t been that heavy. But both of us had been a little seedy, so maybe there was a still heroic comparison to be made. But this was going to be a different kind of pain.
Let no one understate the importance of being official scorer in netball – rain, hail or hangover. You are god should any question arise over who’s winning, so you gotta concentrate. Which is never easy with sleet in your eyes.
Recognising luck, one party graciously took up the offer, asking with calm humility and an eye to the sky, “Are you sure?” The clipboard and pen were handed over and a kind offer made to go get some chairs.
(It was probably the least that party could do under the looming circumstances.)
As one party trotted off the other set up camp next to the tracksuits, water bottles and red frogs of two tribes about to go to sea, I mean war. Such was the pre-match anticipation.
Not that it doesn’t get willing during a game of netball, as it should, because that’s what you want from your team. And your scorer. A willingness to misguidedly offer to score as Armageddon loomed.
This became obvious coming back with the chairs. End-of-days cloud formations were rolling in over Bar Beach, as they do this time of year, suggesting Voldemort was walking the earth once again.
The early hint of drizzle, not yet heavy enough to penetrate cloth on going to get the chairs, was clearly about to give way to character-building precipitation.
And when the heavens broke, Armageddon turned to ‘armgaddon out of here’ – to the cover of the canteen area. And there was your luck kicking in right there. You could have been you scoring. But you weren’t.
Similarly those other winter sports parents across various other courts who followed suit.
Leaving braver souls like the players, coaches, refs and, dare I say it, official scorers to tough it out – like shags on a rock, under brollies if they were lucky.
Displaying that special kind of courage and discipline unique to outdoor winter sports as they kept track of who was winning, losing or shivering on and off the court – and perhaps who’ll be “lucky” enough to score next time.