Retirement Life

Wed, 30 May, 2018Danielle McCarthy

Remembering all the sports we played in our childhoods

Remembering all the sports we played in our childhoods

Barbara Binland is the pen name of a senior, Julie Grenness, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. She is a poet, writer, and part-time English and Maths tutor, with over 40 years of experience. Her many books are available on Amazon and Kindle.

Let’s reminisce, about sports. Now the baby boomers can gaze at sport on colour television practically any time of day or night. Or we can participate in seniors’ golf, or gyms that never used to exist, or walking or cycling. Or we can join in any physical activity that we like, depending on our age, our physical capabilities, and our finances.

Let’s reminisce...Once, when we were young, most of us learnt to swim. It is still Australia’s most popular sport, for folk of any age. If people lived near the beach, they soon learnt to swim. For suburbanites, such as our family, there was a river nearby. Our parents drove us there in a hot car. Air conditioning was winding down the windows. No seatbelts, no heated pools, no lifeguards, or swimming coaches. Mum would say, “Go and swim.” She would read a book, with a thermos of tea. Our dad said, “Don’t come back if you drown.” He would promptly go to sleep, and snore all afternoon. So we did not drown, and always came back at 4 pm. At our schools, teachers took us swimming in the council pool, cold, deep, outdoors, whatever the weather. Boy, did we swim and survive!

Then, there was football. In Melbourne, it was, and still is, Australian Rules Football. I guess things were similar in rugby states. There was no live or delayed football telecast on television. All games were played on Saturday afternoons only. The matches were played at suburban parochial grounds, sort of like tribal warfare. Yes, Saturday afternoons in cold, grey Melbourne, still evoke golden memories of radio broadcasts blaring football across the suburban large backyards. It was all accompanied by lawnmowers, and the inhalation of new mown grass. Let’s reminisce…

Indeed, many people, football tragics or not, still support their old family football club. They bring their children and grandchildren up to follow them too. But, these days, it is a professional, televised, corporate game, too many umpires, a corporate exercise. Football is played now at massive, expensive city stadiums, many kilometres away. Some might regard the modern players as overpriced, drugged up individuals, underemployed ‘superstars’.

Maybe we long for the days when there was only one umpire, when it was all about the team, the guernsey, and the lure of the premiership flag. In those ‘good old days’, boys learnt football skills playing kick to kick until dusk, in suburban backyards, or in the quiet streets. They played with their brothers, their dads, or their mates. Years later, when I was teaching primary school, the boys played football kick to kick on a gravel playground. Did it make them better footballers? A lot of football supporters now turn to local suburban football clubs, to gain the camaraderie of the days when men played like men.

Let’s reminisce, about cricket. When we were growing up, somewhere in middle Australia, our dad, a former sporting champion, taught us to play cricket. Endless summer afternoons of continuous cricket, ‘tip and run’, also popular for sport at school. The eternal arguments over decisions, usually won by the senior sibling. We had no helmets or padding, no third umpire. Little boys all wanted to be captain of Australia, and win the Ashes before lunch on the first day, off their own bat. Some things never change!

Let’s reminisce… Way back when, Australia reached the pinnacle of tennis excellence. In suburbia there were outdoor grass courts, for children to practise their skills. We admired the Greats- Rosewall, Laver, John Newcombe, Margaret Court, among others. But, for us, our tennis equipment was two second hand racquets, plus a tennis ball attached to a long elastic string. This was tied to a brick. If the elastic string snapped, the ball sailed over the back fence—end of tennis!

We did play other team sports, as young girls. Cross ball was a favourite. It was a fun way to learn about playing for the team. Skipping ropes were also popular. Before netball, girls played its ancestor, called basketball, which was different from modern basketball.

So, the baby boomers did not have much current equipment, or uniforms. But neither did most of our sporting heroes. Test cricketers wore no helmets. Footballers worked in full time jobs, and played the game on Saturdays, after limited training in all types of weather, with few facilities. Yet some of the records and standards are only now being superseded in the 21st century. After all these years, would you say that they were better, tougher, sporting men and women? Or is nostalgia a place that does not really exist?

Let’s reminisce… What are your memories of sport?

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