Family Health

What I'm Really Thinking … being benched

I love hurling, I love soccer and I love rugby. I play them all. I’ve been playing them since I was about five, I guess. Or maybe six. I dunno exactly when, but years. I’m 12 now and, to be honest, I’m going off most of them now. I think I’ll still play rugby, but I don’t want to play the other two anymore. They’ve all gotten much more competitive. They were kinda competitive when we were smaller too, I guess – everyone wanted to win anyway. Even in “friendlies” or “Go Games” or whatever. Even if nobody was keeping score, everyone was keeping score. But since I started playing u12 last year and now with the u14, it’s like it’s gone up a level.

Mostly, you can tell by the coaches. In all three teams, we got new coaches for u14. There’s three or four of them for each team. In the hurling, the focus is only on winning. Every game is like a cup final and the coaches are really clear that they are picking the best team to have the best chance of winning. That means that they have subs and they don’t play them. Even when we are way up in a game, they don’t play all the subs. They give some a run out, but everyone knows that’s all it is. Just a run out. It’s clear they don’t need us. I often think we are more of a hassle to them.

Soccer is exactly the same. Rugby is a bit different because they do make sure to play everyone. And it’s not just for the show of playing everyone, it feels like we actually get a proper go in the game.

As you can tell, I’m on the subs bench. Always. I think I might have given up earlier, because it is really upsetting being benched all the time, but I really love the sports. I love playing. I love being out and being with my mates and having a laugh at training and in the car, going to matches and stuff. It’s just the matches themselves that are awful. I feel so useless. Like I’m not worth even including properly on the team, but am just there because I make up the numbers.

My mum and dad keep telling me to keep playing, that my day will come, but it feels like I’m never going to be good enough. I get that message from the coaches every week.

I think my skills aren’t good enough and I guess I’m not the fittest. I don’t usually think about it, but when I’m sitting on the bench, there isn’t much else to think about. Just that I must be crap.

I know my mum tried to talk to the soccer coaches one time and they told her that their job wasn’t to be a children’s charity and that the club expected results and the other lads on the team expected results and that they had a responsibility to put the best team out and they make no apologies to anyone. They didn’t apologise to my mum anyway. She was furious. I think she was also embarrassed because they more or less told her that I was crap and that they didn’t rate me.

Not that she let me stop going. She just told me to prove them wrong. But I can’t. They have their minds made up. They know who they like. There are some of the lads there that always get a game. Every time. That hurts too. Some of them are my close friends, which makes it hard. I think they just pity me, but they don’t want to mess things up with the coaches either. I get that.

I just wish I didn’t have to keep going. It’d be easier not to keep having to face just how useless I am.

As imagined by David Coleman

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