Like many families involved with sport this time of the year is all about finals.  Whether it’s AFL, Rugby, Basketball, Netball or Soccer it’s time to demonstrate how much you have learned and grown as a team and, if you are really good to take out the grand final.

My nine-year-old son has just started basketball this year and after years of playing Auskick he was able to pick it up quickly as there were many transferable skills.

After his team lost most games in the first half of the season, it seemed they found their place, their roles, and strengths and clocked up their first win.

From there, to everyone’s surprise, they beat the top team, not once but then twice and this new team of boys who had never played together before suddenly became the ones to watch.

So when my son’s team was down by 10 points at halftime during the semi-final today, we knew it was going to be tough to be back in front.  But they worked hard and got to within 2 points.

Unfortunately, despite digging deep, they went down by 1 point.  An amazing effort for them and as parents, we were so proud but so disappointed for them.

So when I saw my hot and sweaty red-faced nine year old with a wobbly lip and tears streaming down his face, I went from feeling devastated for him to grateful.

Grateful because today was a gift for him.

I was surprised he was so upset but I totally loved that he was so passionate about this sport that it could bring him to tears.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have seen him cry in his lifetime, including being a baby!

He wasn’t the only one in tears and it was great to see that the boys could feel comfortable enough to cry and allow themselves to just feel sad and disappointed.

Totally understandable and justifiable feelings.

What a wonderful gift to have that experience of working hard and making the semifinals, then put an amazing effort in with his teammates, express how you feel and then be able to pick yourself back up again.

I hope that these experiences, these challenges, feelings of disappointment or anger that he will experience through sport can also be transferred (like his AFL skills) into other areas of his life.  That his resilience, drive, passion, and expression of feelings can mean he can draw on these abilities throughout life’s endeavors, the good and the bad.

And if we as parents can see the bigger picture and take an open-minded approach to embrace the tough times and frustrations that childhood sport will bring we will all see them as opportunities for our kids to learn a valuable life lesson.

We will then prepare them for life off the court, which at the end of the day, is the ultimate goal.

Elise Easdown is the founder and owner of What’s On 4 Kids and paediatric Occupational Therapist. She’s mum to young 3 kids, loves coffee, running and bubble baths.

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