Dream big they say…

We stayed up late to watch the tennis, along with scores of other fans, both fair-weather and dedicated tennis fans because we wanted and hoped to see Emma Raducanu lift that cup. And wasn’t it amazing when she did?

Today, the day after The Tennis, I am sat in my car watching and waiting for my daughter to finish county hockey trials. Over the other side of the sports facility is a youth athletics meet, the parking spaces are at a premium and none of those playing any sport are old enough to drive.

So while I realise talent is the key to becoming a professional sportsperson, so is hard work, dedication, sacrifice, and financial means, and I’m only talking about the parents! 

Would Tiger Woods have become sports first billionaire without his father pushing him along? Maria Sharapova? Andy Murray? The Williams sisters? The list goes on…

You have to be the parent first. I understood this was about the long-haul and if you want to help your kids to get better it’s not about the winning or losing, it’s about trying your hardest, being prepared to experiment and take risks and to learn from both defeats and victories.

Judy Murray

Raducanu laughed as she told ABC’s presenters that even her Father, Ian, and Mother, Renee, had been impressed when she called them after her victory on Saturday night.

“It was really nice to talk to them after I won,” she said. “They were just so happy and proud of me and my toughest critics, and very, very hard to please. But, yeah, I got them with this one. They couldn’t resist.”

Emma Raducanu

But even those that don’t become household names, those that don’t quite make it to the top but gave it their best shot, what about those? The parent power is the same, it has to be. My husband has a friend who was excellent at golf, and his family all had to travel to where he was playing in the summer holidays. On far way overnight competitions while he slept in a hotel provided for by ‘his team’, his Father slept in the car and ate breakfast at Tesco cafes on his own.

Luckily for me, my daughter loves hockey but she doesn’t eat, sleep and breathe it. I am not preventing her becoming the world’s best because I have engagements of my own or that I quite like a glass of wine and an early night in my own bed, not the back of my car after setting off at dawn to get to a particular fixture’s location. I’m not sure what I would do, would I be prepared to give her my every waking moment to let her try to achieve her dreams? Would I feed our family in such a way that it would suit her sporting requirement? What about her brother, where does he fit? My marriage? Would my husband be the one to go on the road with her as it’s safer for him to grab some zeds in a car park than it would be for me? Would it be worth it?

What do you do if your child’s dream is inconvenient to the rest of the family?

It’s very easy for parents who have kids in an individual sport to get overly invested; emotionally and physically, being there all the time and often financially as well. You actually have to make everything happen for them; you have to organise the coaching and the training, book the courts, enter them into tournaments, hang around for hours, sometimes days, sometimes weeks watching them play and of course you have to pay for it all.

Judy Murray
Literally living her best life & thrilled we are too

I went to school with two talented sportswomen, one was a gymnast, the other a swimmer. The swimmer used to go to the pool each morning before school, at 5am. The gymnast had loads of time off school to travel abroad for competitions, neither of them looked to have any social life or fun from where I was standing. And neither of them made it, I know this not because I kept in touch, I know this because I never heard of either of them ever again.

When I wanted a pony, as all young girls do at some point, instead of saying we can’t afford it, which was true, my parents said “horsey girls don’t do anything except horses” as a way of putting me off. Of course it didn’t when I was ten, but at fifteen I was venturing out and Dobin would have been sold or lonely.

Whenever I see a young rising star of sport I always look to the parents and think to myself, you did this too, you made this happen and I truly hope that you are all happy and that all your sacrifices were worth it,  because frankly, for me, I don’t think it would be.

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