Letters — 01 September 2018
A football mom cries out for Jardehl!

Dear Editor,

Imagine how beautiful life could be!

I’m a proud football mom! I make no apologies for all the time I commit to my children and their love for football.

It all started when my sons were born. Having only boy children, I had to learn from early on that little boys have a fascination for two things — dirt and sports. If I was going to keep sane, I would have to learn to get involved and love what they love. I certainly was not the conventional mother who depended on her husband alone to help mold and develop my children’s love for sports because they are boys.

By encouraging their love for sports, it meant that my children would spend more time outside in the yard, playing ball or riding their bike, rather than being glued to the PS4 or the television. It meant that as parents, we would have to invest in sporting equipment, as simple as footballs and basketballs, to keep them healthy and happy. It meant that we were allowing our children to be creative by taping pieces of pipes together and sticking them in the ground to build football goals or use their dad’s extra paint to paint their own basketball free-throw lines.  It meant that they would learn to socialize and foster relationships with children of all economic backgrounds and ethnicities.  It meant that we would be contributing to healthy living; teaching them discipline and commitment to something greater by being part of a team. These are all life lessons we were teaching our children simply by being involved. Imagine how beautiful life could be!

As our children grew older, their love for sports, particularly football, began to evolve into something greater than just playing outside in the yard. They joined a football club where they were taught football skills, as well as basic life skills. Their passion and commitment to their team also meant that we as their parents, were committing to driving them around every Saturday to and from football games and practices. It meant that when there were scheduled games, we would need to share the cost of snacks and drinks with other parents, to ensure that all the kids had something in their stomachs and were always hydrated.

Many would ask why? Why take on that commitment? Why sacrifice our personal time week-in, week-out to be chaperoning all these kids? What was the point? Without realizing it, our love for our children became visible in the love that was being nurtured for the sport of football and for all these other children from our community that were not only trying to find a gateway through football, but who were also looking for love.

We finally understood what the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” meant: It meant that we, as adults, had the unique opportunity to positively influence the lives of not only our children, but all these other children who felt love and who were not afraid to showcase their talents. These children became a part of our family. Imagine how beautiful life could be!

Recently, when we learnt of Jardehl Muschamp’s great accomplishment, I was wow-ed! Imagine what this 16-year-old has been able to accomplish and the magnitude of the opportunity he has been gifted with. Being a part of the large football family we have become, we could only dream for an opportunity like this for one of our children; not our biological children, but our chosen children. All of our football players dream of being Messi or dream of being Cristiano. Now, they are dreaming of being Jardehl Muschamp. Their innocence is heart-warming.  As a mother, I think of all the possibilities that are standing at the doorway for Jardehl, waiting for him to take that next step forward onto realizing his dreams. This is a dream that many before him have shared, but haven’t been able to materialize for whatever reason.

In the same breath, it saddens my heart to see how little interest we have given to this opportunity as a nation. As a nation, we invest in and staff the National Sports Council to encourage development in sports. We have corporations like SMART who invest in annual Mundialito tournaments. We have football associations in all districts seeking football talent. We have a football federation that receives funding from FIFA and other football organizations to invest in the development of football and our young athletes.

Now I’m left asking “why”? What is the consolidated objective of all these organizations? Why do we even bother, when we have an athlete who has reached a cross-road of opportunities and there is absolutely NO interest to get him to the next level? Isn’t this exactly the opportunity and objective of the sport councils, football associations and football federation?

Are we, parents, coaches, and hopefuls for a brighter tomorrow for our children, wasting our time?

Imagine the message we are sending our children if after they have dedicated years of playing, training, competing, building their skills in a sport that they love, investing time, energy and sweat, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, like Jardehl’s, presents itself, and there is no support. They have nothing to aspire to!

How do we explain to our children the likelihood that, regardless of their talents, the possibility that their lifelong dream may ever materialize, is slim to none. As a society and as a nation of sports fanatics, we have failed Jardehl and we have failed ALL of our children!

Imagine how beautiful life could be!

#footballmom

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Deshawn Swasey

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