Rohan “Sheeds” Bardwell was sitting at his kitchen table. It was 6 in the morning. In front of him, he had whiteboards, magnets, coloured markers and the much-loved coloured wrist bands strewn everywhere on the table in front of him. His head was in his hands and he was staring vacantly at his new yellow, blue and red wristband mural on the wall that he had made and put up just last week. Liz, his lovely wife, concerned for her husband, came out and asked, “Rohan – are you ok? It’s so early! Are you worried about today’s game when the Maroons play Beaumaris2?”
“That’s part of it, my darling” he responded with a sigh. “But the real issue is whether I have the chocolate strawberry oatmeal with kale, the baked lentils on wholegrain birdseed toast or the chia seed breakfast bowl with almond milk and cinnamon for breakfast. I think I have landed on the lentils, but now I can’t work out if I have the toast with non-salted butter, the ghee butter, soy free butter or the organic coconut spread….” He sighed heavily. He needed to be at his very best today. Being a coach was tough work.
But whatever Rohan did end up having that morning for breakfast didn’t affect his coaching performance on Sunday…..the kids were up and about down at Beaumaris’ home deck…. The Captains for the day were Jason and Jack and boy oh boy, were they proud footballers as they were introduced to the team and tossed the coin for the game.
The team seemed focused. Alert. On. They sat down and listened when Sheeds the master coach was speaking. And they took this attitude out on to the ground. They passed to each other, led hard and pressured very well. They manned up and were always looking for ways to make it harder for the opposition. Beaumaris were playing strong football, and as such, the ball was trapped in the Rover’s defensive half for most of the first quarter. Jason revelled in his captain’s responsibility, dominating the back half and repelling wave after wave of Beaumaris’ attacks. Charlie and Bertie were excellent in support, tackling and pressuring. Ben showed how much he had improved by taking a great gutsy mark, backing back. Well done Benny! Harry & Diesel were working together and Angus certainly was maintaining his form. Jason copped a knock on the knee, but like all good captains, shrugged it off and was very tough. Sheeds was pacing up and down, but smiling, not because he was filled up with lentils, but because he could see that the team was trying their best and listening to what he wanted them to do.
The second quarter saw a shift in play, with the Rovers’ mids starting to take control and pump the ball forward. Arlo was thriving in the “in and under” plays, feeding the ball out to Diesel in particular. Dan and Niko were leading very hard into space, and Angus and Jack continued their strong teamwork ethic, with some great handballs to players running past to create opportunities. Harry was bounding around in the forward line, akin to a small human wrecking ball and Ben again showed his potential with another big grab! Sam came off after going in hard and was very brave and tough.
At half time, the forty hours that Dimma had put in during the week working out a zone wristband system that actually worked and allow his sanity to return paid big dividends! He was seen running around the ground after the break, doing little jigs and laughing and clapping to himself….hmmm….. this will have to be monitored…..
The third quarter was again showing the kids’ willingness to focus on the team and manning up, which was fantastic. Harry, Angus and Cate were doing a great job, and Teddy, Lucas and Tom were doing a great job keeping their opposition quiet. Bertie, Tom and Teddy especially were showing how they are improving with every week! Jason and Jack continued their great captain’s games and Diesel and Seb were starting to create some shots at goal.
The last quarter was more of the same, with the team really trying hard and doing their best, particularly looking for their teammates and running hard. The difference in the team from now to a month ago is stark – and the kids are now getting the concept of how to play the game, which is the most important thing.
Seb intercepting, Sam passing and hitting Alex on the chest, Jack a great tap to Angus, Arlo a great handball and Cate and Dan doing exactly what Sheeds and Dimma wanted them to do. You can’t ask for much more than trying your best, and playing as a team, and that’s what the team as a collective did. Well done Maroons!!
Thank you very much to all the volunteers on the day, to Fi and Maria – doing a magnificent job again – and Paul showing that he may have missed his calling to be an AFL umpire…not sure if it was his calm demeanour and decision making or the magnificent high-vis umpire t-shirt which made him stand out the most…and maybe it explained why Jonathan, as umpire’s escort, was wearing sunglasses…
And just in case you were wondering, Sheeds ended up having the organic coconut spread on his toast… and the lentils didn’t work their magic until well after the game….thank goodness…