I sat on the grass in the outer at Elsternwick Park yesterday, my pallid, translucent skin viciously burning in the afternoon sunlight as it positively poured down on me from an eager springtime Sun. I watched as both the reserves and seniors teams of the University Blacks, (the club that I play for) won their respective premierships and capped off a fantastic year for the club in general, as they were elevated from Premier B to Premier A, the highest possible grade in the V.A.F.A in which they play.

After a four year hiatus from football due predominantly to a serious knee injury and at least partially to me being a lazy fucker, I returned to football this year after having my arm twisted by a work colleague who’d already pledged his allegiance to the University Blacks (and is a handy running backman for the 1sts team).

When I turned up at the start of the year I was literally one hamburger away from a potential berth on next The Biggest Loser series and it took me some time to get myself into any sort of shape at all, let alone the sort of condition to play top-flight football yet again. I ended up managing to play 7 games in the 3rds competition for the year. Unfortunately our team didn’t make the finals, which was the reason why I was watching on intently from the outer on Saturday.

It was definitely a surreal feeling watching on from the sidelines; I was torn between feelings of absolute joy for the wins that the boys achieved and a sense of bitter disappointment that I wasn’t in the sort of shape necessary to be on the ground battling it out with the rest of the team. Now, I’m not saying for a second that I would’ve definitely been granted a position in either team, but I know in the back of my mind that I’m still a good 10kgs and 1000kms of running away from being in a position where I’m comfortable to say that I’ve done all I can to ask for a position on that field.

I distinctly remember having an argument with some idealistic wanker at my university residential college a few years back about the importance of sport in Australian society. Their argument was that it is ludicrous to place sportspeople on pedestals when there are far more valid heroes not receiving the same sort of attention despite their roles being far more important. Then, and now, I disagree.

Sportspeople may not be curing cancer or battling poverty, but they often (sometimes inexplicably) carry the hopes of a community as the physical embodiment of something better, something to strive for or achieve…

For the first time this weekend I observed the impact of a simple game of amateur footy on the players, their parents and their friends. It was clear from the outset that these games were more than mere games of football; they were the completion of months (and sometimes years) or hard work, dedication, sacrifices and determination. Every bump was ridden by us all, every tackle braced for and every kick willed to its target. The sheer expressions of unabashed joy upon the faces, especially on some of some of the older supporter’s faces on Saturday were something that I’ll never forget.

As the old adage goes, “You get in what you put out.”

My pre-season training starts tomorrow.  

/end communication