Monday, 24 May 2010


One of my weekend tasks is to think of a subject matter for my blog. This week I thought I had it sussed. We were going to a rounders tournament and I decided that this would allow me to have a gentle swipe at all the competitive types that there are around here.

It may be the same everywhere but as I live in this small town, Ilkley represents my total knowledge and experience. And Ilkley is very competitive. Parents are pushy, sport is at county level or not worth doing. Even my facebook page shows signs of competitive housewifery.

There's nothing wrong with a bit of competition. It's a dog eat dog world out there and if you want to succeed you have to be the best. But it doesn't appeal to me. If I was competitive in my youth, I have forgotten. I want me and mine to do well but it really doesn't bother me how well that is in comparison to other people.

So when I saw the team lists for the rounders tournament I thought, not unsurprisingly given how most things work round here, that I could just sit back on my hand crocheted picnic blanket and soak up all the material for a comic little posting.

But I was wrong. So wrong that I am almost ashamed to have had the idea in the first place. Shortly before Christmas last year, one of the mums from school, Kim, died from breast cancer. I didn't know her very well. Our paths crossed because we had children in the same year at school and she coached another of my kids in the girls' football team. She was lovely. Her death was tragic.

Amongst many other things, Kim played rounders competitively in a league until she was too ill to play any more and it was in her memory that the tournament had been arranged. I know a few people who had taken it upon themselves to organise the event and was aware that it had been no mean feat. So, whilst I didn't intend to play, I wanted to show my support by taking my family along and helping them raise money.

Saturday dawned bright and hot - a perfect day for an event like this. I packed up a picnic and suncream and off we headed to the venue. It was packed. Not only had the maximum number of teams applied for places but there were plenty of people like me just there to watch. The sun shone, the drinks flowed, the children played and the rounders, two matches at a time, commenced.

And that was when I realised that I had been wrong, that I had misjudged the competitors. Yes, of course, people wanted to win and the games were played hard. But that "win at all costs" attitude that I am so used to was not there. The day was about the tournament - of course it was. But the focus was not on the winning but on the woman for whom it had been planned. I saw nothing of the cut throat competition that you find at other sporting events in the town. Just fun and happiness and, at the presentation for the very gracious winners, a few tears for Kim and her beautiful family.

Sometimes the need to win does transcend other things. Kim was competitive herself. Had she been there she would have been doing her utmost to ensure victory. But sometimes it really is all about the taking part.


Helen said...

Sometimes, I think we all worry too much about what everyone else is thinking and forget to have a good time ourselves. As someone who took part on Saturday I know My main concern was not to make too much of a fool of myself. Once over that I totally agree with all that you have said. It was one of the best days I have had for a long time. The kids played as they should - freely, without constraint, enjoying each other's company. The games were fun and we made new friends and felt new muscles on Sunday! All because of Kim....

Stephanie Millward said...

That's a lovely blog Imogen.
I could hear Kim's voice on Saturday urging on all the players because for her the taking part was the most important . Although an accomplished sportswoman herself she would always encourage those of us less skilled as long as we were trying our best - same for the girls football team - she made point of giving everyone a turn at the matches.
She could however equally let everyone know when we weren't doing our best!!
I miss that and I miss her.
The ultimate irony of Saturday was that despite the success of the day she would've been cross with us for making such a fuss about her.
Hopefully she would forgive us as it was for such a good cause and she was always keen to raise awareness of the terrible disease that took her from us.