Updated: Aug 2, 2021
It was May 22nd on a chilly damp evening in Beaumaris that I experienced a sporting epiphany.
It wasn’t the moment I realised I was on the plane to Tokyo destined for Olympic glory by wearing green and gold. No, I wasn’t picked to play for the blue & yellow that night. That opportunity had come and gone many years earlier when I was playing for the Beauy Vets and won ‘Most Improved’ after 42 years of playing the beautiful game. That doesn’t get you on the plane to Tokyo.
No, it was something very different but a moment that has stayed with me. On that May night, I was surrounded by folks wearing their blue & yellow scarves watching Beauy’s Senior Men defeat South Springvale 3-1. It was our last home game before lockdown.
And that night I was put in charge of the toilet queue. Yes, it was my responsibility to ensure our CoVID Safe plan was complied with. One in, one out to maintain social distancing. I realise this makes it sound immodest that I’m a big cheese at Beauty. After all, not everyone is given such a high profile role in protecting public health.
Shockingly it turns out that Toilet Queue supervision is one of the more mundane tasks involved in staging a soccer match in the middle of a pandemic. What I learned from showing up that night, and though most of our interrupted season to date is just how many people it takes to make sport happen in our community. People who give time to the Committee, to coaching, to managing a team, to planning for events (that invariably must be cancelled), for registering hundreds of people and then refunding the same, to making lists for CoVID safety and briefing me on how to do it safely. Tasks that are tedious but done with diligence, with care and attention for all involved. Putting the effort in off the pitch so a game can be played on it.
Football history is full of famous names here and overseas, the winners of cups and medals for club and country. But for every hero, for every glorious achievement that we celebrate, there are volunteers putting in a great effort that few see or recognise with a thank you.
At Beauy on that damp cold night, and at thousands of other sporting clubs across our land, these volunteers were doing it not for the glory our heroes feel in Tokyo.
Such tasks are as far from glorious as you can get. No, what I learnt that evening is that joining in, even to supervise the toilet queue, is a step towards glory, a step to experiencing the joy of being part of a family, a family that is bigger than mine but one that needs me and others like me to play their part in making heroes.