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Friday, March 11, 2011

sports-woman-ship

Today, beautiful sunny day, late afternoon, loading up the car, following two vans and a big bus, to the International School League Sports Finals in Nairobi. The biggest school, Rosslyn, hosts the final matches, the top two teams in each category, narrowed down after a 3-month term of play and a series of semi-finals. Boys and girls, varsity and JV, basketball (boys), football (soccer) (girls), field hockey (both), and swimming (a more limited number of schools with pools, not RVA). RVA made it to the finals in boys' basketball, JV and Varsity, and girls' football, JV and Varsity. A traffic jam of schools and parents streaming into the school grounds, teams swarming, kids from Africa, Asia, Europe, America. Coaches, balls, whistles, screams, cheers, friends, claps, laughter, dust flying, colors.
We locate the JV girls' football field, and mill about with parents, waiting. Shouts erupt from the gym and we hurry over to catch the opening five minutes of the boys' varsity basketball, but then Julia's game starts and we hurry loyally back. We play Peponi, definitely the best team we played in the regular season, and the winner of their group as we won ours. The RVA girls come out strong, a more confident and active team than the tired girls we saw at the end of the last match. Their coach has done a great job, the growth in the team is clear, and they are ready for the final push. Twice we apparently score, but it is called off, a questionable off-sides and a hard-to-see other call. Undaunted they play on. Julia takes every corner, goal kick, and free kick, always running back to her defensive position as sweeper. She lobs corner after corner into great positions, and the team does a much better job of being in the goal box and playing it in. Late in the first half there is a penalty not too far outside the 18 yard box. We know Julia can score from there. And sure enough, she does, a strong solid on-target kick, the keeper gets her hands on it but can't stop it. We're ahead 1 to 0. The second half is a well-fought battle. Julia twice saved goals by kicking the ball out of the goal at the last minute after her keeper had been beat. All the girls are playing hard, sprinting, reaching, pushing themselves. When the final whistle blows, they are elated. They have won the season.
RVA won three of the four events they entered, as well as sportsmanship awards in all the teams that came, plus the overall school sportsmanship award (voted on by all the players and coaches). We only lost the boys' varsity basketball, and that was by one basket, down to the wire, an impossibly close and exciting game.
Rejoicing that our kids can participate in sports. And not just in sports, but in sportsmanship, in applauding their opponents, respecting the referees, honoring the coaches, supporting their classmates. And watching our daughter score the winning goal of the season was a pretty sweet gift, too.

4 comments:

deborah said...

Congratulations to Julia and her team!

Peter Elwood said...

This makes me happy! Give Julia my congratulations.

eye lift said...

These are great pictures of women sports and sports-woman spirit. I want to wished them many many congratulation.

nose job said...

Sports are useful to every one. Its one types of exercise. and Here My best wish and Congratulation to julia and her team. Thanks for sharing all these photographs with us.