Family Life

The son rises in the west …

It's great to be a talented young footballer but life can also be a pitch out there

And so the adventure continues.

O’s coach had hinted at the possibility and then the email came: Our son and two club-mates were invited up to training one evening with the Dublin and District Schoolboy League (DDSL) representative squad.

The DDSL is the biggest and best schoolboy football league in Dublin, and hence the whole of Ireland. Their representative team is thus the best of the best. A very big deal for O – and us, his Dad, Mom, and sister K.

They were preparing for their next match in the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland (SFAI) Under 13s Inter League Championship. The Leinster semi-final.

Dublin has three leagues, organised primarily according to geography.

There is the North Dublin Schoolboys/Girls League (NDSL), the South Dublin Football League (SDFL) and the DDSL.

The DDSL is full of famous underage football clubs, and many of the country’s Irish-born international footballers started out here.  Clubs like Belvedere, Cherry Orchard, Home Farm, St Kevin’s Boys, Stella Maris and St Joseph’s Boys, who play in the DDSL’s highest league, the Premier, are writ large in the annals of Irish underage football.

O’s team have just been promoted to the Premier, and have played four matches so far, three league and one cup. They lost 2-0 to Cherry Orchard, beat Stella 2-0 and drew 1-1 with the mighty Belvedere on their home ground, and knocked Cabinteely out of the Liam Brady Cup.

Yes that Liam Brady, of Arsenal, Milan, Sampdoria, Inter and Republic of Ireland fame. Started out with St Kevin’s Boys, on Shanowen Road on Dublin’s north side. Did okay after that.

Serious football: top coaches …  savage competition in cups, leagues …  club tie-ins with League of Ireland clubs, scouts from the top English clubs at every game, we hear. 

All this sounds like parental blowing: Golden Balls son playing for top team, getting recognition, and us basking in his reflected glory.

And it is, of course. Hard not to: it’s a massive buzz.

But we’re anxious too. The matches are exciting, but they are tense too. We see our boy under pressure to perform, in a way he has never experienced before.

It’s tough out there: coaches and parents are great when things are good, but all sorts can happen … arguments, fall-outs, a player can get dropped. Cast out. That’s a lot for anyone to deal with, but we’re talking kids here. Our boy is 12 years old.

There’s always that feeling when you rise higher, put yourself out there, that you will you get found out.

Maybe our fantastic boy (and not just fantastic because he is a good footballer) will get found out: hit a wall and maybe have to turn back? Or rise again and again when things don’t go to plan, and come back stronger and better every time? Or finally crack?

Maybe he will have to have to process the crushing disappointment of going so far and no further, while still a child.

Sure we’re thinking of ourselves as well, but I really am hoping he succeeds, for his own sake. To see that passion and talent and skill and dedication rewarded.

So over we drove, My wife A, myself, and O to the DDSL training night at Abbotstown, in west Dublin. It would be a closed session, meaning only players and coaches present. 

In the car, parked beside the football pitches and dressing-rooms, a wide-eyed but contained O named each player as he arrived, high-fived with the coaches outside and disappeared into the dressing-room. All legends on his Snapchat and Instagram accounts.

O’s greatest reverence was for the seven or eight players from St Kevin’s, who form the nucleus of this DDSL squad.

Only last week ‘Kevin’s were runners-up to Barcelona in the final of the Academy Cup, the elite invitation only tournament they host each year for Europe’s top clubs. Other participants included Bayer Leverkusen, West Bromwich Albion, Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund!

And here was our boy about to strut his stuff with these boys!

We collected him. He was buzzing, saying he had “done alright”.

The next day his club coach told us the DDSL coaches wanted O back the next week.

They were playing the Kilkenny League team on Sunday week. The NDSL were playing the Midlands League in the other semi-final. The winners of both would meet in the regional final!

O had played for the NDSL’s representative team up the ages for four years, but since his new club are in the DDSL, he was no longer eligible for the NDSl’s squad. But he is for the DDSL’s.

Another Abbotstown session on the Wednesday evening, and word came through to his club coach that O might be involved, or even play, in Sunday’s match.

So what happened next?

O only went down with the short-lived but nasty tummy bug doing the rounds.

I had brought him to the train station for club training on the Thursday even though he was really pale and unusually quiet. The drill is he gets the train and my wife picks him up two stops away to bring him to training, while I go back to the house and our daughter.

O assured me he was just a bit tired but would be fine once he got going. He’s that kind of kid, will give everything even when he is not feeling 100 per cent.

When they arrived, his club coach told him the DDSL had been on to him and an 18-boy squad would be named for the big game and he would get a text if he was in. 

O joined the training, but a few kicks of the ball and a few runs later the game was up. His tummy was in bits.

Straight to the car and a false alarm when A pulled over the car on the motor way home. No puke.

That happened when he got home, the most horrible vomiting and retching and he eventually went to bed, all skinny body and sweaty hair, like a squeezed out sponge.

Kids, eh? We were still in the Easter school holidays and the next morning he was up … and wanting to play Fortnite on the PlayStation. Showered. No food for a while but not bad … he might be okay for Sunday after all. If called up.

Late Friday night, the text finally beeped in. He was in the squad. With two other guys from the club. Fantastic! The club’s WhatsApp group was all about it, and everyone was invited to come along and support the boys. Thumbs ups and congrats all round.

All four of us were going on the Sunday, K swayed by the Milanos pizza afterwards and the promise of a new mascara.

Saturday night, four in the morning and there was the clanging of the toilet seat in the main bathroom and the sound of violent retching. K had the bug!

There was sympathy aplenty and a hot water bottle for our girl and she eventually fell back into bed.

She was up again around seven, retching, but no more puke. By the time O was up and we are getting ready for his big day, K was flat on her back exhausted and sleeping.

We’re not completely heartless you know: we did establish that while she was feeling wrecked and wretched, she would be okay, and the best thing was to just catch up on her sleep and we would check in on her regularly.

We did leave her with basin and water and the usual sick child parapharnalia.

The game itself was a lovely blur. Out on the field doing their exhaustive warm-up O was wearing number 18. Hey, he was in the squad.

Soon the pitch was being cleared of coaches and subs, and O was still there … taking up his usual left central defensive position. He was starting!

What a crowd there was there, moms, dads, siblings and teammates all crowded against the barrier on the public’s side, filling it from one end to the other. The atmosphere was electric, and we were hoping O wouldn’t be too nervous.

None of it. He did fine and his side soon established their superiority, and O looked comfortably central to it all. Pushing up, neatly linking the play with midfield and his overlapping full backs.

The Kilkenny defence was really strong and brave and they ultimately did well to limit the score to 2-0 to the DDSL. The Dublin team missed a number of chances, but it was a job well done. And O played maybe 50 of the 60 minutes.

The second goal was scored by O’s team-mate, AJ, who was barely on the field as a half-time sub, when he coolly finished off a neat passing movement up the left and across to him at the far post. And excelled thereafter on his own debut for the DDSL.

Word came through later the NDSL won their semi-final 4-0. O will be meeting his old team. If selected, as they say.

O was quietly delighted afterwards, sipping on a paper cup of “gorgeous” vegetable soup when he came to the car. He showed the printed slip with his name on it, which he had found attached to his playing jersey, hanging in the dressing-room when they went in. Just like the big guys, Messi and the rest!

He laughed, showing where they had mispelled his surname.

“They’ll have it right for the next game,” I assured our DDSL warrior.

PS: Football politics, eh? True story: The NDSL league management lodged an objection against O playing in the Leinster final, as O had already played in the competition for the NDSL and was therefore cup-tied, so to speak. In other words ineligible for the DDSL team.

So we went to the final last night and O had to look on as the DDSL comfortably beat the NDSL 3-1.

So O’s team are two games away, possibly from an All-Ireland title but O can’t play! He took it so well, but it wasn’t easy as the day he heard the news his club team also lost a match.

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Mother of TeenagersJakiJellz

43 comments on “The son rises in the west …

  1. A lovely story, you must be so proud of him. I hope he plays the next game and the sickness bug stays away!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Clive. Yeah he is fine now. But I tell you, it is nerve-racking the pressure these kids are under. He’s handling it well but we are asking ourselves what has he left himself in for? And us?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Enda. I know what you’re going through. Our younger daughter was selected for the Lawn Tennis Association’s elite junior programme and had coaching camps at the national centre with Judy Murray, among others. The pressure on kids and parents is unbelievable, but we all find our way through it. All we can hope is that they find their true level of potential and enjoy themselves in the process. Good luck to O for the next game, and for what his future may hold.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah it is tricky when we consider the pressure put on the kids at a higher level. He is so into it but comparatively, he has not experienced too much disappointment yet. Wonder how he will deal with it when it comes. As it will. Fingers crossed!

    Like

  3. Ah i bet you are so proud of him. Moments like these are just ones to cherish! #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are indeed so proud … but we have to be careful about it with his sister!! Thanks for reading and commenting

      Like

  4. What a trooper! I can imagine him having the biggest grin after the game, and so he should! You must be immensely proud of him and engaging in activities like this takes commitment and passion! Well done! #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sure does. His commitment is absolute and it’s fantastic to see someone so dedicated and passionate about something! Thanks for your comment

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Awww amazing achievement, you just be really proud X #LGRTstumble

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are! But we also realise that with serious comes ups and downs and anxieties and all sorts of things to make you queasy as well as the positive things!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. viewfromthebeachchair

    Good job! Sports and the stomach bug! YIKES!! #ablogginggoodtime

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a fantastic achievement. Seems like he handled it well. Fingers crossed he makes the next squad.

    #lgrtStumble

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, congrats to you and O! You must be so proud! I remember when my step-daughter was chosen to play for Wales. It’s a very proud feeling. Thanks for joining in with #ThatFridayLinky

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, playing for your country — fantastic. I’m sure you will relate to the anxiety that also accompanies high performance. Thanks for reading and commenting!!

      Like

  9. congrats all around. Hope everybody is feeling better #thatfridaylinky

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Soffy S

    Wow, congratulations! I hope he strives and strives for success and I bet you’re all so proud! Thanks for linking up with #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Well done O it’s a fab feeling I remember when my daughter was selected to play for Wales it’s yhe the best feeling feeling in the world. Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is some achievement for yiur daughter Nige. PIn what sport? It certainly is some adventure our boy ia on. Thanks for commenting

      Like

  12. Ah, I’m so pleased it turned out okay in the end. You must be very proud. Thanks for joining us at #TriumphantTales, hope you’ll come back again on Tuesday!

    Like

  13. Lucy At Home

    Wow what a proud moment for you all! And it sounds like he’s taken it all in his stride which is brilliant. I totally understand what you mean about worrying if it’s the right thing – as parents, we always want to protect our children and we wonder if they are ready for the world “out there” because we know how horrible it can be… but it sound’s like he’s made a great start and I hope he thoroughly enjoys it! #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, he has made a great start and was really mature when the team he was due to play in the regional final objected to him playing because he had already played for them in the same competition, even though it was last season. They actually tried to get his team thrown out of the competition because O’s side are vastly superior and it was the only way the others might get past them. Lousy but true and our 12 year old boy is not allowed play in the final. Who are the adults and who are the kids! Thanks for commenting

      Like

      • Lucy At Home

        Oh no! That is ridiculous! So unfair! The other team obviously are feeling very threatened. But it sounds like O has dealt with it really well – you must be so proud of him!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: BlogCrush Week 62 - 20th April 2018 — Lucy At Home

  15. latebabyblooma

    Wow Go O! You must be so proud and have every right to brag #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • We are proud of him. But really because of the way he is. His footballing talent is a bonus. A wonderful bonus. Thanks for reading and commenting

      Like

  16. You must be so proud. My son loves sport so we are always on the sidelines cheering him on and I wouldn’t have it any other way! #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is brilliant. But it’s also been a real eye-opener to see the negative side of all this: petty jealousies, coaches taking on and discarding players and so on. Thanks for commenting

      Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s nice to know that American parents aren’t the only ones to get petty over kids sports. Well, maybe not nice to know… but yeah. Good for your son; competition is something that drives many forward, but buries others who are otherwise up for the challenge. I look forward to and dread the day my own boys are competing in their chosen areas. #BlogCrush

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow amazing to think of a Dad in America reading this! But yes the pleasures and the vagaries are universal and the experience is certainly not boring!!! Thanks for.joining in and I hope you enjoy the ride when your own boys are competing

    Like

  19. I really enjoyed reading this. What an amazing experience for your son – he has obviously rightfully earned his place on the team and that is quite an accolade in itself. I can see why you are both proud and nervous as his parents. Having a daughter, I’ve not been exposed to this type of competitive sport (yet) – unless you count being the only state school kid up against all private school netball players for a place in the Borough squad. Had myself and another parent been aware that it wasn’t a level playing field, we probably wouldn’t have taken them. Yet they insisted on going back on the following week. They were rejected but took it well and understood that they were up against pre-formed teams that were used to playing together. All part of the learning. I look forward to hearing more of your son’s football news and I hope that he enjoys every minute with his team. Thanks for sharing with #tweensteensbeyond

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Yeah, that’s another aspect of all this, the elite academies and schools and teams that are given preferential treatment, just as you describe. Luckily enough for O, and not to be boastful (hopefully!) he has been able to be above the political machinations because he is so obviou talented. He has made each team on ability and not on who he knows etc. Thanks so much for commenting

    Like

  21. mumneverknows

    So difficult. You want to protect them from everything but let them reach their full potential. That quandary AND a sickness bug… I am not jealous 😂 #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

  22. He obviously has a lot of talent and I am glad his sickness didn’t thwart his opportunity to shine. I can relate so well to the competitive pitch side atmosphere among parents and when my son was younger, I always found football to be the worst. It’s a very passionate game. My son’s sport of choice now is cricket which involves a lot of sitting down and polite clapping! A very different bag altogether. I hope your son continues to get picked, it’s wonderful when they find something they are passionate about and get recognised for it. Thanks for sharing. #TweensTeensBeyond

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is an amazing time for him and while we as his parents are enjoying.it there is also our worries that the pressures don’t weigh too heavily on him. Thanks so much for commenting

      Like

  23. In football parlance that’s a result!⚽. Thanks for reading and commenting. 👍😀

    Like

  24. Good on him. What exciting times really well captured by the post. I don’t like football and i was gripped! #blogcrush

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Alice Letters to my Daughter

    Wow, well done O! So cool! Sorry the tummy bugs and politics got in the way a bit but glad he managed to keep his head and do a good job. #BlogCrush

    Liked by 1 person

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