The title of the movie was Any Given Sunday, starring Al Pacino and the American Football team, the Miami Sharks, but for me, it was all about last Saturday.
For anyone that wonders about the worth of a local, community based football club, you only had to be at Colga's grounds in Kilcornan last Saturday. Over the course of the day, from 9am until dusk, I'm guessing that close to a hundred players, coaches, parents, and the all important "I'm dragged to the match" siblings were at the pitches. Two great competitions were being played out in addition to training for our underage teams. What happened during the day really struck me.
I arrived up at the pitch around one o'clock. I was fresh from helping at a training session with under 7 Colga academy team, and, whilst inspired by their enthusiasm and energy, I was in dire need of a cup of tea. I was a little early to the pitch, 2pm kick off, but I was eagerly looking to the 3rd round of the FAI Irish up for my under 12 team. Of all the competitions we play in, this is by far my favourite - the chance to pit your worth against teams from all over the county, the provence, and, potentially, the island.
When I arrived, our under 14 team had just kicked off the 2nd round of the Connacht Cup (another great competion) against Hibs. There was a good crowd of parents supporting but at this early stage the atmosphere was relatively calm.
Shortly after, a group of cars arrived, and I greeted the secretary of St. Peters, from Athlone, who were our opponents for the under 12 cup match. The secretary was delighted, for 2 reasons, 1st, they found the ground, no easy feat, and 2nd, felt it was fantastic their team was getting the opportunity to play an away game in such beautiful surroundings....helped no doubt by the fact her team had won the previous round of this competition 11-0. It was great to see the cars pull up, park, and watch the players and parents hop out, look around, and enjoy the occassion. I got St. Peter's sorted just as my own lads were arriving for the match.
The next 30mins or so went as normal. Tog out and warm up and get ready. But, we couldn't help keep an eye on the under 14 connacht cup match which was unveiling beside us. Hibs 1-0 up until the very last minute...and then, almost beyond hope, Colga got an equaliser. Extra time.
At this stage, the under 12 match was due to kick off on the other pitch. So, off we went. You could not help being distracted....Under 14's....Colga score, 2-1, 10mins left...under 12's, Colga score 1-0 up....under 14's Hibs equalise, 2-2...under 12 Colga score 2-0...and then, under 14, Colga score 3-2, under 12 score 3-0, final whistle under 14, Colga win, through, 3-2, half time under 12, Colga winning 3-0. It was fantastic...parents, players, refs, coaches, supporting, playing, but all involved in 2 amazing matches side by side. And the noise...whistles, shouts, cries, wind, roars, laughs.........
As it turned out, the under 12 game ended 4-0 and my team managed to get through.
So, we walked off, Colga under 12's victorious, St. Peter's feeling very sad, but we all shared a cup of tea and a sandwich. The players, the coaches, the ref, the secretary, the parents, the siblings, and we chatted and spoke about football and all of the really important things in life........
What a day - what really struck me was the number of children, players, adults, and supporters all at the same place, involved in different activities, but all part of the same occasion. It signified the importance of "our" club and why involvement is so important.
It may not be like this on "any given Sunday"....or Saturday...but it certainly was last weekend.