Tales from a Soccer Sideline: 2020


“I’m devastated, 2020 was going to be his first year to be graded into a good team,” says soccer mum, India, carefully placing her newly lifted face in her hands so as not to create any wrinkles.  “A hip replacement, can you believe it?”

“Try not to worry India honey, he’s young, he’ll bounce back quickly and be back on that soccer pitch in no time,” soothes her friend Sydney, via collagen lip balloons.

They sit in silence, watching their tiny younger son’s play in the latest technology Protein Infusion® compression wear, and helmets with inbuilt multi-directional Bouncepads® for headers.  The Bouncepad® was the same technology Nokey had tried out in their football boots a couple of years before, which had helped shoot China onto the world stage of soccer (in a deal whereby China supplied the children to manufacture the shoes and the Chinese soccer team would be the first to use the new technology. Chinese children would do anything for soccer, said Nokey’s Marketing Director).

“Yes, I know,” continues India, rearranging her hands to her knees and off her face, deciding it wasn’t a good idea to tempt fate on the wrinkle front. “It’s just, you know, all those years of training – 6 hours a week of development squad when he was 5 years old, all the 4am Crossfit strength and endurance training before school every day, the evening academy’s year round in the freezing snow and the 40 degree temperatures… The Christmases we gave up! The 100 hours a week work I had to do to pay for it all….. For what? A hip replacement at 8 years old.  I can’t believe it.  He’ll never get back to a decent level before the month-long sleep over camp where they assess them for grading…” India cries at the injustice of it all, gently dabbing tears away along her cheekbones – rubbing your eyes was the absolute worst cause of major wrinkling.

“Have you spoken to the club’s doctor? Maybe he has some supplements little Ronaldo can take to get him back in top shape before the grading?” suggests Sydney, careful not to smile in admiration and stretch her lips too much as she sees her wee 2 year-old scissor-kick then roundhouse a goal from the other end of the pitch.Baby playing football

 “Oh yes, absolutely, he’s got a full regime ready to go as soon as I give him the go ahead,” nods India.  “Thank goodness all that’s allowed because we’re still at the junior, amateur, volunteer club-run stage of soccer.”

“Good.  Oh look!” Sydney points toward a mother, who dared wear a tracksuit to a sporting event and is kneeling down cuddling her son.  “There’s that silly hippy who still believes sport is for fun! Ha!”




Tales from a Soccer Sideline #2

“It’s just really important to Sam,” enthuses Marsha with a look of utter distress on her face about the whole situation, whilst simultaneously checking Facebook. “Soccer is a huge passion for him and he really looks up to the coach, sees him as the most important thing in his life during the soccer season – oh my gosh, Carolyn’s at it again with her status updates complaining about having no help at home, bor-ring….If no one else is doing it for you, get off Facebook and do it yourself woman,” mimics Marsha as she swipes Carolyn off the screen in disgust.  

“You know,” continues Marsha, back to the important topic of soccer, “when their coach doesn’t turn up, not only does the team fall apart during the game, but the boys don’t feel like they’re worthy of their “esteemed” coach’s time,” she sighs, withdrawing her French polished fingernails back to their phone typing.     soccermumsbagcoach

“Hmm,” agrees Beverly, mother of the star striker of the team. She’d not been happy since the beginning of the season when her division one son had been relegated back a level to division two. “This is what happens in the lower divisions, it’s just rubbish, no one commits, no one cares.  I think I’ll talk to the club director about it. See if they can give us a new coach – one who actually has the team winning as their top priority.  When he does turn up to coach he’s too soft, like they’re just there to run about and have a giggle.  Perhaps we can pay a coach?  Volunteers just don’t work.”

Marsha looks at her watch.  It looks so out of date now, she must get herself one of those hot new Marc Jacobs’ timepieces.  “Five minutes late again. This is just ridiculous, where’s the man’s commitment, I ask you?”

“Exactly.  It might as well be us out there coaching them,” spits Beverly angrily.  “We turn up with our kids on time, we put in all this effort when we could be at home in the warmth, feet up, watching I’m A Celebrity –”

“Oo, do you think Shane Warne will win?” asks Marsha getting excited.

“For sure – Oh, here he is, FINALLY!” says Beverly loud enough for them to hear in the next suburbs’ training grounds.

But coach Tim doesn’t hear the women.  His mind is still back in that hospital with his little girl fighting the whooping cough ravaging her tiny body.  On his wife who is falling apart and on his boy, slinking along beside him who is suffering on all fronts as his family dances with death.  He gives his little Matthew a hug as they walk up to the waiting team. His wife had said it would be good to get fresh air, try and do life as normal for a while.  Him and Matthew had missed last week’s game when their baby girl had been rushed to the Children’s Hospital – maybe a run around with his mates and a bit of his beloved soccer will make him forget for just a small while. He tries to remember how to smile: “How are my boys? I heard you played an awesome game last week, lots of great passing and marking, well done, high five!  I was really upset I missed it…”

Tales from a Soccer Sideline #1

I DIDN’T GET THE AWARD FOR SPORTSMANSHIP!” he spits at his mother, devil-red in the face, smoke pistonning from his nostrils. The 9 year old striker’s fists begin to crack closed forcefully, his tiny brain struggling to makes sense of it all, teeth grinding in fury.

“Yes, I was watching the award ceremony,” responds his mother, also seething with disgust.

He starts up again: “Little -”

“Now Brutus, darling, remember we don’t use the F word in public places like this, it doesn’t look good,” says Mother, ever responsible.  “I’ll talk to Ben Botson about it. Someone must have been in his ear.”  She walks out of the Man Untied clubhouse, confident in her promise. ‘Cheats’, she thinks – ‘the kid and the club director.

“I wanna smash that dumbass,” rages on the tall, wiry boy, possibly lacking in a wide vocabulary.  “How many goals did he get, huh? huh? He can’t tackle to save his life.  A back, a defender, who wants to be a stupid defender,” he wobbles his head in mockery, striding  after his mother, the usual two metre distance between them she keeps.  

“‘Pass, pass,’ he screams like a girl – no way I’m passing the ball to him, I’m the only one who can kick goals in that whole team. Sportsmanship – can’t play sport to save himself…” He kicks at a rock, his superb goal-kicking foot hitting the gutter instead, making him near explode. “Few teeth on the shoulder in a close tackle oughtta let him know who the winner really is,” he mutters.   

Mother smiles to herself, lowering her Lycra top neckline in readiness to see Ben. So competitive was her little Brutus.  Such a great quality to have – she couldn’t have written it into him if she’d tried.  But she’ll just be right up there and making sure that Director knows exactly who their family is:  Soccer royalty is who, an A grade player since he was 5, training with a personal coach four times a week even back then. He is lucky to have Brutus in his club.  No one forgets her children. No one. Brutus will be making international soccer headlines one day, just like his hero, Luis Suárez.


Suárez showing the true extent of his skill in the 2014 World Cup

This is a practice piece in writing character’s, and is the first in a series using the soccer season I’m about to be kicking around in.  I have never met Brutus, nor Shazza his Mother, they purely a figment of my nightmares. Luis Suárez, however, is a real life adult experiencing teething.   

My heart, newly born

You put your head on my chest: First your ear, then your squashy little cheek, then your perfect, faintly-haired crown nuzzles down with a sigh, above my heart.  Your head and my chest become one, together, there is no difference between us anymore.


Just like when you were growing inside of me, only better.  Better, because now I can touch you.

You need to know I’m there for you. You need protection because a noise scared you; you need comfort because you’re tired; you need to hear my heart underneath your body which constantly says:  Love.  You.  Love.  You.  Love.  You. 

I need you too, my soft little miracle.  It’s a need that should be called an urge, so strong is my desire to envelope you, consume you, smother you in my love and protect you fiercely and forever. “Eat you up!” as I often whisper in your embrace.

Then you place your little pudgy arm on my chest alongside of your head.  Your fingers look like they’re squeezing out from underneath the pink mound of your hand. A fat hand – til I was blessed with a baby, I never would have thought there was such a thing. I press my finger into it’s velvety beanbag, full with the effort of my whole being that I’ve put into you – all the love, all the carefully chosen food, the age-old marvel of breastmilk, my upmost protection, the lessons of living, the settling into slumber, the softest of soft touch, the tears we’ve cried together, the cuddles and rocking in the dark hours of night, the song “Daisy” which I sang as “Henry” over and over, all the love… Definitely all the love. It’s all in that fat little hand, resting upon my chest.

I feel pulses of your love come out of your palm.  It travels through my densest bones, across my muscles taught to rigidity from carrying you around; through lungs busy with important work – but nothing as important as you.  I can only feel these tiny soft pulses if I am very, very still: but once I do, they come, and come, and grow, and swell, flowing through my body, over my heart, riding the flow of my blood, buzzing from my heart out to my arms up to my scalp and down to the balls of my feet on the ground. I can no longer ignore it; it is suddenly like electricity, pulsing my whole being with a love that at first I cannot believe. It is all consuming, defies my understanding, just a physically overwhelming pulsating inside me. It makes me grit my teeth, my muscles strengthen upon themselves so as not to crush you, but so great is my physical need to give my love a purpose, and outlet, that I just might. 


I look back at your fat little hand, laying there on my chest, your eyes now closed, your heart listening to mine:  Love.  You.  Love.  you.  Love.  You.  Love.  You. 

I never want it to end.










Mindfulness and meditation.  It helps a world wide web worth of things, especially, I am told, with writing. Writer’s block? Meditate. Creative juices goneski? Meditate. mindful tree

So I have decided I need to learn it.

Especially at the moment because I have four little ones who are behaving like someone else’s children. You know, that naughty toddler throwing himself on the floor screeching in the middle of the school tour?  Or, the child with the I’d-never-let-my-child-speak-to-me-like-that mouth on her? You see what I mean – not my children, clearly, imposters.

Emergency meditation needed, toot sweet.

So, this week I’ve have given my new mission a start. I set my intention (Guru Google told me this would be a good idea):  To learn and practice and feel the benefits of meditation, mindfulness or, let’s face it, just plain old numbness will do.

And here is how we have progressed.

Strategy number 1.

Meditate first thing in the morning. I set my alarm – because that’s peaceful? – and am awake before the kids.  So I lay there, as still as I can, in the darkness, in my nice, warm bed: Clear mind, clear mind, clear mind, blank space, I see nothing, I need to vacuum the floor, oops, I see nothing, I feel nothing, except a little bit of panic because writers group are coming here and I know there is a years-worth of pasta under the high chair. Oh, clear mind, clear the mind, blank space, feeling nothing, clear the mind, clear the floor, running out of time, what time is it?

Look at phone. All over.


Strategy number 2.

You can find moments to meditate whilst going about everyday life, I read. So I decide to cook dinner mindfully.

Chop, chop, chopping carrots, very orange, carrots. Chop, chip chop. With a blunt knife. Chopping beautiful carrots.

“MINE!” Hefty, two year-old limpet, pulling my skirt off. “LEASE. LEEEEASE!”

Now potatoes, peeling potatoes. Stroke, stroke, peel, peel, goodbye old skin, hello fresh flesh.


Peel, peel, peel.


Plop, plop, place lovely potatoes in boiling water. Or maybe throw vigorously. And maybe burn thyself.

Stop mindfulness to administer first aid.


Strategy number 3.

Meditate using a yoga DVD, at night, after the kidlets are in bed.

Sun salutations, up down, breathe. Up, down, breathe. Now this is a bit easier.

Twist, floaty music, twinkly voice lulling me off, twist the other way, breathe. Ahhh.

“Stupid computer, this Windows 8…” breathe, blocking out. Twist and breathe.

“Do you know where the internet security disk is? Those kids taking things… Stupid Windows 8…”


Triangle pose with hands over ears. Breathing into the tight areas – TAP TAP TAP, “Do you know where the-“

Give up, drink wine.



In this week of meditation, I sent my daughter to school dressed for Whacky Wednesday on Tuesday, left my pram in a carpark, forgot an appointment, and wrote a chapter of my book that makes no sense at all – wouldn’t even be able to use it for Whacky Wednesday. Mindfulness = Forgetfulness.

So, perhaps not an entirely successful start. But I think I will continue to try. 

Any tips for this mindless novice?






An uncomfortable silence?

 My new job was not a comfortable one.

I learnt that every minute a human was being sold into unspeakable brutality.  Every minute that I sat at my clean, new desk, drinking my murky but hot coffee, with my body, completely intact. Every minute I slept in my enormous bed.  Every minute I complained about a cold shower, a crumbling footpath or a rough taxi ride.  Every single minute – Now, Now and Now – a child would enter hell whilst still alive.

It was hard, this job. I often found myself crying through a lot of it. But how was my pain, compared to a wrung out, 10 year old girl or boy, sold by their mother, to a man with a knife, a bludgeon and a sick, sick mind? 

So I kept going.

This is an excerpt from the book I am toiling away on.  It’s an uncomfortable topic.

Human trafficking came into my consciousness when I lived with my husband in Romania, many years ago.

Chugging along in the Bucharest traffic I noticed out the window very young females, with adult bra’s hanging off skinny frames, tiny skirts, and garish makeup – as if they’d been getting into their mother’s wardrobes.  But I doubt there was a mother anywhere near those girls.  I’d heard about this street.

I felt sick.

This small experience put the injustice of it all inside me – I remain shocked that a human being could force another human being into being a commodity.  Prostitution is the biggest reason for trafficking humans.

I felt really upset.

Romania is not the worst place for it by a long shot. Anyone go on holiday in Thailand?  That tops the list. Australia is not without blame:  We are a ‘destination’ country for trafficked victims. That means there is a market for it, here, right on our doorstep.

How many children do we hear have ‘gone missing’ in our news?

I felt compelled to do something.

So my very tiny contribution, at this time, is to write about it in a novel.  I’m trying my hardest to make that novel something people might want to read and come away informed that it is very real in this life.  I would be amazed if they felt compelled to look into the issue more.

I feel like I want to do more in the future.

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
― Robert F. Kennedy


I see, I think, I wonder


I see four frilled-neck lizards,

Sitting on the lounge.

Or wait – are they neck ruffles

On silly billy clowns?

Or maybe they are brothers

And sister, wild at heart,

And the baby, trying to escape

Did someone do a fart?

I think they’re playing together

Perhaps with a new toy

Or maybe it’s some fancy clothing

That looks like a banana on baby boy

I think they’re pretending to relax

But I sense it’s just a trick

Because any minute now,

They’ll bounce about and skip

I wonder if their mum

Is trying to put them down to bed

But they won’t get those silly

Big fat pillows off their head?

I wonder if she’s laughing,

Or if she’s getting snappy

I think she loves them just the same

But… maybe her own pillow would make her happy?