Friday, 11 July 2014

Very proud parent today…and every day…

I am dedicating this blog to my two children, Wes and Lucas. Read on and you will see why…

So we will start in July 2004. I treated Wesley to a meal at his then restaurant of choice, the Aagrah in Garforth, Leeds. He was six years old. My parents were with us. After the meal, Wes sat with his elbows resting on the table and his chin resting on his hands, looking me straight in the eye with such a loving and cute smile on his face. He was desperately trying to persuade me to let him play rugby league. You see, earlier that day I received a phone call at work from a very excited and happy little Wes who had been inspired by Jonny Wainhouse at the Leeds Rugby Foundation. Wes had taken part in a summer rugby camp and on the last day was awarded the match ball for his excellent attitude, ability and good manners. I almost cried at my desk when I heard his happy and proud voice. At this point he was already in the Huddersfield Town Football Academy but whilst he loved it, he’d never displayed this level of excitement.

As an Insurance Broker, I’d dealt with injury claims for rugby players and although I’d been an avid fan since the early 1980s, I really wanted to protect my baby from injury. So, on that very evening, at that very table in Garforth, Wes begged me to let him play. He had an ally in my Dad who had been with Wes on the touchline watching my nephews play. Wes would discuss what moves they should do and always be thinking. The final plea was, and I will never forget it, “Mum, I could be really good at rugby, please, please let me try.” Six years old! Needless to say my heart melted and I relented. He had to wear a scrum hat and gum shield of course, which I feel should be compulsory for young players in amateur clubs but that’s a debate for another day.

What can I say? In his first ever game, he was a bulldozer, the poor kids didn’t know what had hit them! Week in week out he was picked out by opposition coaches.

Over the years he has faced bullying, nepotism, prejudice and abuse from parents but he kept going. Only once did he think of giving up when he had a bad experience at one professional club which coincided with lots of players leaving his amateur club. I have always told him to do what he feels is right for him. During this period, he spent some time with Jamie Field of Five Star Fitness in Boston Spa. The timing of the sessions could not have been more perfect. I paid for him to have eight sessions with Jamie discussing nutrition and fitness. They sorted out a diet and exercise regime that Wes followed to the very letter. I knew then he had his drive and motivation back. Whilst his friends were out eating burgers and pasties, Wes was sticking to his proteins. I don’t think I will ever get used to the smell of steak first thing on a morning! But you do what you need to do.

Within eight weeks he was leaner, fitter and brimming with confidence both on and off the field.

One afternoon, sitting outside Lucas’s school, I received a phone call from Sheffield Eagles inviting him onto their scholarship programme. In spite of being told by his amateur coaches he was only an average player, he set out to approach this new opportunity with the highest level of motivation and commitment. Clearly my philosophy of only doing something if you can commit 100% had rubbed off. The moment he stepped into Don Valley I knew it was his place to be. He never stopped smiling, not once. Not even when the Strength and Conditioning coaches gave them hard sessions.

Every session he would be ready. Every game he would be up and ready. He thrived on the challenge. The most satisfying part of being a parent is seeing a child happy in what they are doing and knowing that you helped them on their way. We have had unbelievable support from my parents, Sheffield Eagles and friends.

All his hard work and motivation paid off today when he was asked to stay on at the Sheffield Eagles and he will join their academy team in August. 

The trip to Sheffield this morning was probably the hardest we have done because we didn’t know whether it would be a positive outcome. It was such a relief when we were told the great news.  I also know that come August his exam results will be fine too because a proviso of playing rugby was that he worked hard at school and he has done just that. It was probably the best clause I ever negotiated in a contract!

It just shows you, one decision can take you on a unforgettable journey and take you to places you dream of. If you want it badly enough, you will work for it and go that extra mile to get it. Wes missed his prom, preferring to go training instead. His choice, his life and I am immensely proud of his work ethic. 

Lucas, my youngest has had a fabulous day today too. Three achievements awards at school in swimming, handwriting and research work. Also a school report that confirms he is a year ahead in his English and Maths.  I tell you I feel ten feet tall today. I must be doing something right.

We know the journey ahead of Wes is long but I also know he will work hard and listen to the professionals. I will be there to support him every step of the way, in the background, probably writing. To me he will always be that little boy sat at the table in Aagrah.

Late August we start pre-season training and in the words of one of our heroes, “We go again!”

You can purchase my debut novel, Beyond the Past from 
Pegasus Publishers  
Amazon UK  
Amazon US



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