The phrase ‘insert sport here family’ has, for many years, made my toes curl. Family? I didn’t understand. How could your child playing a sport mean that you had a whole new family? Both Emma and Charlie are sporty and have, obviously, dragged me into that world with them. It’s been a baptism of fire! Just how many times a week does a child need to train? As I’m learning, it depends on how serious they are, and Charlie for example, wants to make Ice Hockey his career when he’s older. He is fully committed, his hockey stick is never far from his hand, there are at least 3 pucks in each room of the house and I even had one delightfully left for me in the coffee machine last season. I feel like I constantly say ‘stick down!’ and now that we have moved, he has set up his synthetic ice in the conservatory. It’s a pleasure to see and I’m now fully understanding the phrase ‘Hockey Family’. Charlie’s place on the Cardiff Junior Devils U11’s team has grown him in ways I never thought possible. He is determined; focused single mindedly on his end goal. It’s a delight to watch him trying out a new skill and not mastering it, but then practising over and over until he gets it. I love watching the coaches care and support him, whilst pushing and challenging him at the same time. It’s so lovely to see him glance up to where we sit to see if we’ve noticed. His persiverecne is incredible and the pride that he feels is wonderful and justified. He’s made some great friends; personalities that he might not have come into contact with if it wasn’t for his Ice Hockey. It’s lovely to watch him mess about with the team between games and before and after training and, during full weekend tournaments, the bonding that goes on is incredible. I am so thankful for the pride that he feels each time he steps onto the ice wearing his jersey representing his Team. When Charlie comes off the ice the first thing I ask is “Did you have fun?” and the answer is always yes.
Charlie’s new found Hockey Family hasn’t just been beneficial for him. Oh no, it’s spread it’s care and support to his siblings. Emma was recently allowed to sing the Welsh National Anthem before the teams Inter- House game. She has been relentlessly bullied this last year and, as a result has lost all of her confidence. When I asked if Em could sing, the answer was yes. Surrounded by the families and coaches that she sees for hours each week gave her the support that she needed to take a baby step towards regaining her confidence. Every single person there was rooting for her, cheering and clapping and the support from the Head Coach was so heart warming. She was a different child that evening and that’s because of the support that she had from her Hockey Family.
This Family of like minded people have seen Jack make great strides with his social skills. As you know, Jack doesn’t socialise with other children, he will not have anything to do with them unless they are immediate family! During our time spent at the rink he has made friends (with Emma’s help) with a small group of varying ages. There is one particular little girl that he adores. He asks each night before we head to the rink if she will be there. He said that she was his friend. I never thought that I would hear Jack describe another child as his friend, even typing that makes me cry! He plays and communicates with her at every opportunity and tells me that he is sad if she’s not there. Last Monday evening he made one hell of a break though. He asked a child that he didn’t know if they wanted to play with him. Oh, the lump in my throat! Jack has spent so much time at the rink that he nows feels safe and in control there, and it’s when those things are in place that he can develop. The hours that he spends at the rink, he uses fully; playing, taking and laughing with other children; things that I never thought would happen!
I never realised just what a Hockey Family could bring to my family, but I now know that the next few months and years spent with our Hockey Family will enrich our lives in ways I never imagined and I’m so thankful for that.
I didn’t know that our family would become their family too.