Towards the end of last year, my five-year-old son fell head over heels in love with football, and my life became a whirlwind of everything: emotions, losses and interruptions.
I am yet to know from where that seed was sown because I personally did not go far on that front. I was still honing my skills towards becoming the best goalkeeper this country ever had when my mother beat me senseless for sneaking out of home to go ‘waste valuable time on that stupidity' instead of studying.
I would never set foot on a football field again. (Now you know why Harambee Stars has perennially struggled in the goalkeeping department).
My son’s approach was different, probably what I should have done three decades ago. He never came to me and professed his love for the game like he does with food and TV shows, he simply started showing interest in things around football.
We would be driving then he spots a billboard with a footballer and requests we stop for him to admire. We go to shop for his clothes and he disappears, only to be found at the section with jerseys and boots.
I sign him up for the Robotics club in school he comes back with what he was seeing members of the football club doing on the field. I could not continue burying my head in the sand for long, the evidence was all over.
HIS DAYS BECAME BRIGHTER
I finally decided to register him in the football club this year and while his days became brighter, mine took a turn in the opposite direction. To begin with, between January and now, I have lost three water glasses, a picture frame with our wedding photo and this cute glass sugar dish I wrestled out of mom's vintage collection.
Three weeks ago I replaced the windscreen on a neighbor’s vehicle, shattered by him and an estate team he assembled. My aquarium has so far been slightly missed twice, the TV thrice.
My peace of mind is the most affected. So many times I sit in the house trying to work but he keeps interrupting me to help update his scoreboard, watch new tricks he's taught himself or wave a flag as he celebrates a goal he scored.
To put this into context; his tuft is my sitting room rug while the goalpost is the door that leads to our kitchen. I am always expected to sit in the 'stands' which in this case is the couch, and role-play as the game’s commentator.
As the day wears on and normal children retreat into their cribs, my household welcomes the now synonymous 'Tup! Tup! Tup! As his ball hits surfaces and walls.
As a parent, I love the fact that he found his passion early and so far it has not affected his studies, but I am struggling with a few fears.
Having watched hundreds of football matches both live and televised, I am not oblivious of the ever-imminent threat of injury on the field of play.
I have seen professional footballers run into career-ending tackles and spend months in hospital undergoing treatment.
Even worse, I can name some who were stretchered out of the field and the doctor’s report indicated that they would not be able to play again, for life.
The mere imagination of his frail legs on a field with opponents sometimes sends shivers down my spine, and you cannot blame me; I am just being a parent.
The other issue is how I will help him manage both education and passion simultaneously without one eating into the other, because as much as I would love to be dad to the next Michael Olunga, I want him to get there while educated as well. Football is a very perishable career, one that peaks for a season of 10 years or so, after that new talent is signed to fill one's position.
Those that were educated and wise enough to invest remain relevant, but the shortsighted ones fall out and are never heard from again, save for damaging stories in blogs about their financial woes. I do not want my son to go through that.
I recently bought him a jersey, shin guards, stockings and boots as part of my continued involvement in his passion, but I am learning that it takes a lot of dedication, prayers and overcoming fears to throw weight behind some of the things kids fall in love with.
It has opened my eyes to the amount of blood, sweat and tears parents put into grooming these superstars we all marvel at when they put up beyond-par displays on TV.
Most of us celebrate the end result without lending thought to what went on behind the scenes. And that is the story with a happy ending, there exist hundreds of cases where there was all the investment then the sportsman’s star just refused to shine, he or she lost track at the proverbial eleventh hour or exited the game permanently due to injury.
Supporting a child’s dream, especially extracurricular, should make its way on the list of the 1000 ways to die.
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