A proud parent shares his experiences and insights gained from many years of being a father to a son with dreams of one day playing for the Proteas.
I am just a proud parent – with very little cricket knowledge – who has a son who is 70% of the way to the ultimate goal. I heard somewhere that the average professional needs to spend 10 000 hours practicing before making a success of their sport of choice, provided that they have a degree of talent.
All parents believe that their sons will be the next ‘greats’. That’s because we are parents and we love our children. It’s a ‘no-brainer’. It helps when fellow parents from your team echo this unwavering belief.
However, my yardstick is rather simple; when parents and boys from the opposition start talking of ways to get him out or deal with his bowling… then you may be on to something!
And then YOUR 10 000 hours and plenty more kilometres (as well as many ‘bread and jam’ meals to pay for this expensive sport) begins.
Do your homework
- Find the best coaches in your area. My 3 L’s = look, listen, learn.
- Same goes for clubs in your area. A big part is the coach. Not a wimp, not a sadist. A coach who wants all in the team to succeed, not just his son.
- Schools provide a difficult conundrum. We want the best, but even with all the sacrifices, more often than not, we simply don’t have the means to tick this box till grade 8.
- Should your son begin to be selected for provincial sides, then you can approach sponsors. Cricket equipment manufacturers want a return, so let your son prove his worth. My special thanks go to Bellingham Smith (B&S from the Eastern Cape) and GM for the past few years.
- For me, grade 8 was the most important year to make the ‘hard’ choice. Find the absolute best cricket school in your area, private or public. For me, there was no problem choosing. It was a Johannesburg public school with a hundred years of tradition and a bagload of South African players who had gone before. These schools are so committed they will do anything to accommodate any difficult situation that you may be faced with.
- As a day scholar it was a 108km round trip every day. Leave home before the sun rises and head home after the sun sets: 45 minutes drive in to school and then two hours home in peak traffic. And then there is still school work. You may have to lower your expectations of seven distinctions… maybe one or two, if you are lucky.
- You may have to lower your work aspirations to accommodate this commitment. You may not be at the pinnacle of your career, but you are rewarded 10-fold over in so many different ways.
- A special mention to the Tag Foundation for all their support.
- ‘Set him free’ – you cannot be in the middle or on the oval. If he is committed and talented, he will prove his maturity and dedication beyond all your expectations.
- Don’t live your dreams through your son. You’ve had your turn. Be proud, humble, reserved and grateful to all those who have contributed to your son’s growth. Never be an embarrassment to your son, teammates, parents, your school/club/province. Never shy away from telling your son how proud you are of him… on good and bad days.
- I have been privileged, blessed (call it what you want) to have so many exceptional people involved in my son’s fledgling cricket career. Take the time to tell them how grateful you are to them for their time, commitment and guidance. They do it out of their love for the game, often sacrificing their own family time.
- As a non-cricketer, I don’t prescribe to the belief of only exposing your son to ‘pure’ cricket. Any cricket, whether it be French cricket, backyard/street cricket, indoor cricket, etc, all forms of cricket will benefit your son.
He is of voting age now and well on his way to fulfilling his dream of wearing the ‘green and gold’ (I hope for his sake). I cannot believe that I am nearing the end of my 10 000 hours.
Enjoy the moment, every moment. It is a time of such turbulent emotions that always leaves me teary-eyed. I wish I could start my journey all over again. Bring on the 10 000 hours and all that goes with it. I will do it over and over again.
But more than that, I want to begin the next chapter, in the stands or watching on telly, rooting for my son, team and country. To the next 18 years.
May all those special people/institutions continue to play an important role in his cricket career. May he be privileged to have many more special people come into his life.
Thank you to all… and good luck son.
– Submitted by a proud parent
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Proud Parent has asked that if his story wins the prize that it be donated to Jason Horwell of C.B.C. cricket club in Boksburg (‘Thank you, “Wortel”. – Never a dull moment. You will know who deserves such a prize.’ – a Proud Parent)