The First Kick

An Easter miracle happened at the Dodson Household on Sunday. Young Jack William Dodson put boot to ball successfully. This was no Malcolm Blight Princes Park Torpedo, rather, the majestic sight of a three year old learning a new trick, and the resulting beaming smiles of a Grandfather, Father and Uncle. There is no price I can put on this moment.

This had been a long road (in my mind). For the last year Jacks’ version of kicking the footy has been to simply throw the ball up in the air, look at me with a contented smile and say: “look Dad, kick up high”. The little lad is fascinated with how high the ‘football men’ on TV can kick the ball. Jack is in awe of my mongrel punts in the back yard as well. Any effort to get the ball in the air is a legitimate possession in his book. At first I laughed. Three months later I became concerned. Six months later I lost faith in my coaching abilities. One month ago I was dusting off the tennis racquet.

I swear I am not Damir Dokic, however, a result for all my toil would be nice.

It all came together on Sunday. My Parents and Brother drove up from Wagga to spend Easter with us in Melbourne. As we were sitting in the Lounge Room, with the Sunday Footy Show muttering in the background, Jack saw his ‘best friend Buddy’ on the TV as the Panel were dissecting the Swans vs Bombers game. You ask Jack which team he goes for and he simply replies Buddy.

Jacks’ Grandfather asked an innocent question: “Show us if you can kick like Buddy”. A high watermark from my Old Man. I am pretty sure Dad was not expecting Jack to wheel around on the left and boot it through the door to three houses down the road. Perhaps he should have asked Jack to see if he could kick like Andrew Dunkley?

The little three foot monster, resplendent with Matthew Priddus style curls, his pants pulled up higher than an Octogenarian, still buzzing with the after effects of his Humpty Dumpty Easter Egg, went and picked up his footy.

The lounge room came to a standstill. Grandfather, Father and Uncle watching with as much intent as the people who watched the Moon landing through store windows. I thought shit here we go again.

Jack carefully places the ball near his foot with the concentration and deliberate action of a Neurosurgeon. Every movement is exaggerated. I think the boy likes a sense of theatre. He drops the ball the required six millimeters he has left between his foot and the ball, swings his leg through and launches the most perfect 1.86 metre kick I have ever seen in my life. He looks up at the crowd with an almost Carey like look of arrogance, as if to say WTF did you expect. I suspect I’ve ‘been had’ by the little mastermind over the last twelve months.

Jack then went on to repeat the feat a handful of times. Each act with the same precision, concentration and theatrics. Jack is showing me what pure enjoyment looks like. A skill has been learnt. Jack is kicking the ball because it is fun. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Grandfather, Father and Uncle are in bliss. We saw it together. No words were said. No words were needed. Three smiles of joy, and in my mind a moment to pause and think about my earliest memories of kicking the footy around the backyard. To share the moment added so much more to the experience.

We are a Football Family. Dad the standout player, having knocked around with John Pitura back in the day in Wagga and getting picked for a NSW under age team (and subsequently missing out due to being three days too old!). My brother had all the skill, but gave the game away early to chase a Golf Ball (which he still does in single figures). As for myself I plodded around in the juniors, tore Cameron Mooney apart in an under 13s game (it takes me 2 hours to tell the story after a few beers) and I gave the game away after the under 19s to concentrate on Cricket, a regret to this day.

We are a Swans Family. We have not talked football much in the last six months, after the Grand Final horror show. I can still recall my brother getting in the Cab outside the G, just after three quarter time, and telling the Cabbie that there was an extra $20 in it for him if he can turn the radio off and not mention a word of the footy.

At some stage I lost the pure enjoyment of kicking a ball. I was too much of a worrier about results, performance and the like. I can learn something from watching Jack. I hope he hangs onto the pure enjoyment of his football and other sports for as long as he can, perhaps hopefully for ever.

What will become of Jack and his football journey? That is up to him. Perhaps he will have a lifelong passion and love for the Game. Perhaps he will get drafted by Fremantle and quit after failing to come to terms with Ross Lyons’ rigid structure (Ross about the enter his 23rd year as Dockers coach, taking them to six grannies for no flags). Perhaps by age four he will no longer be interested in Football and will prefer to chase Lizards in the backyard.

I will be in the background to offer a helping hand and a word of encouragement and advice where warranted. I will have to get past it if he doesn’t fall in love with the Sherrin. I suspect this will not be easy. I am already under probation from my Wife for hiding a soccer ball, given as a gift by Neighbours, on an inaccessible shelf in the Garage.

Whatever happens with Jack and his football I will never forget Easter Sunday 2015. This is a bloke thing.

 

About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.

Comments

  1. Keiran Croker says

    Pure gold Craig!

  2. craig dodson says

    Cheers mate, have fun at the game tonight

  3. Peter Fuller says

    Love it Craig, that’s a special moment in the life of a parent. Your young fellow’s achieving the landmark at age three offers me some reassurance. My grandson two plus a few months, seems to have reasonable co-ordination, but he has yet to grasp the concept of kicking the footy. He is cursed genetically coming from a line of poor kicks. Provided he shows some form in the coming months, your experience will suggest that there is still hope for him.
    We’re always too impatient. I remember many years ago, reading a lament in an English soccer publication that the pre-occupation with catching them young meant that unless a youngster kicked his way out of the cot, the scouts had given up on them.

  4. craig dodson says

    Give it another year Peter and I’m sure it will come together. Jack swung a golf club like adam scott at 18 months and yet the footy took time. They are interesting little monsters.

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