It might only be just a small part of sport, yet, in my opinion, may well be the most important part. I’m talking about sportsmanship: teammates encouraging each other, enthusiasm on the field of play, and being positive to those that surround them.
Having played competitively since the age of 11, I can speak for a lot of people in saying a positive vibe during play is essential. Chatter on the field, giving others a pat on the back, a small gesture of appreciation goes a long way to cementing an equal and fair playing arena, and a sense of camaraderie.
I’m going to share some of my experiences, starting with my first cricket game, about eight years ago, in October 2004. I was playing for the Phillip Island Under 14’s team, and I’d only joined the club a few weeks beforehand. Still getting the hang of competitive cricket, and trying to remember my teammates names, I was incredibly nervous. With the support of my parents, and the rest of the team, I quickly became a lively part of the club. I picked up my first wicket in that game, and haven’t looked back since.
Just like it’s important to support a friend who isn’t feeling great, shouting words like ‘great ball!’ or ‘beautiful shot!’ are very helpful to a player’s confidence. We all wish we could be like our heroes – Messi, Gilchrist, Lloyd, Federer. We start out at the grassroots level, where involvement, enjoyment and participation are all vital.
Even at the top flight, we see and hear players shouting to one another. The same behaviour for a friend applies on a sporting field-it can set the tone for the rest of the game. Use your support base-parents, friends, teachers; they’re all part of it.
On another of my experiences, (and this is probably similar for most sportspeople) the best part of being in a team or squad is the atmosphere between clubs and players. The grassroots level is the platform where relationships in sport are formed. If you want to make it to the top level, not only do you need the skills and the talent, you need a fair, level-headed and enthusiastic head.
So come on: get behind your mates when you play.