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A letter to the 15 year old me

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Dear 15 year old Pete,

You won’t be surprised to know that sport, which has been a big part of your life, will continue to be so for the next 20 years.

You know those days when you used to spend hours upon hours playing cricket in the street and shooting hoops with our next door neighbours? Of course you do. Well, no surprise, but they will always provide your fondest memories of you actually playing a sport. No matter what unbelievable sporting moments arise in your future, and there’ll be a few, those epic shooting games and endless summer hours of cricket at Telopea Avenue will not be beaten. Ever.

And by the way, you won’t ever top the 125 and 144 back-to-back street centuries you made as a 12 year old, though an 83 you’ll make for the Nunawading Churches of Christ Cricket Club 3’s as an adult will be a pretty handy knock.

In a year or so, you are going to damage a finger in your left hand. Badly. It will need surgery. When the operation is completed and the pins are inserted and the surgeon tells you to go home but to take a couple of Panadol if you experience any pain, refuse to leave. Stay the night. And punch the surgeon in the face. Hard.

There’s a silver lining to this, which is why I’m not telling you how you break your finger. It will make you shoot a basketball with only your right hand for over two months. This is the best thing that will ever happen to your basketball stroke. (But I repeat, do not go home after the surgery.)

Soon after you turn 18, you will start playing footy with a great mate at a local, knockabout club. Don’t give it up, regardless of injuries or setbacks. There’ll be a cigarette passed around the huddle at most three-quarter times. Don’t judge those who partake. They’ll possibly run out the fourth better than you will.

Three tips for your football ‘career’ –

  1. Just because you get an open kick off on the wing will not mean that you will not be cleaned up as the ball lands in the forward line. When this happens unexpectedly, let yourself tumble; do not stick your arm out to break your fall. A broken wrist hurts a wee bit.
  2. If you’re ever tagging an opponent and you grab his jersey behind play, when he turns around, it will not be to ask you politely to let go. You may have had your first kiss by then but never a ‘Liverpool’ one. Trust me, they’re not as fun.
  3. One thing I will get specific on – late in a nothing game when your team is down, the ball will be coming towards you as well as a teammate with more gaps than teeth and mangy long hair, screaming to let him take it. Let him have it. A broken thumb hurts a wee bit.

It’ll be tough to get to know the lads, but give it time. It’ll help if you head to the bar for a drink after every home game ‘for a beer’. Start with bourbon and coke; you won’t look back! And at some stage give beer a go, you’ll get there … … eventually.

Oh, and somehow, some way, you will develop a genuine taste for soccer! You will grow closer to some Greek friends at school, some of whom support Manchester United, so you will do the same thing. Hey, they’re red and black so it fits with the footy theme, right?! Don’t wait another 13 years before you start to consistently follow them – you’ll miss out on a lot! Two more words – Rooney, Ronaldo. You’re welcome.

Now, I won’t go into details of the potential triumphs or heartaches surrounding the teams you love, especially the Bombers and the Lakers. But stay loyal. I’ll say no more as it’s incredibly hard to write this and not give away significant media bans. Never mind what ‘media bans’ are, you’ll find out in a variety of frustrating ways soon enough.

But there will come a time when the comfort of your own space will see you drawn to watching far more sport than you actually play. I know that seems inconceivable right now. But a lot of your self-confidence will be eroded and it will be harder to find people to hang with, which will affect your self-esteem. Often, it may seem easier to plonk in a comfy chair (there may be a recliner in your future – better than Nana’s!) and admire the work of the pros than to get outside and be active yourself.

Don’t fall into this trap. You are ok as you are and you will be fine. Stay active. There’ll be plenty of time to come when your body just won’t allow you to do what you do now. Stay with your footy and the basketball, do some weights, keep running, pick up a tennis racquet regularly but maybe do less golf. Oh, and try something new…

Your passion for sport will take an interesting turn just before you turn 34, which will provide a few wrinkles, affect some relationships, grow you as a person and a man, and, dare I say it, as a father…

It will also get you writing again. Don’t worry – you’ll enjoy it this time.

Sincerely you,

35 year old Pete

PS I know part of you will be screaming for historical information on lotto numbers, betting results and whom you will marry. Sorry, you’re ok as you are. You won’t need all that money and it’ll be much better to let the girl thing happen naturally.

But, do not be angry when Essendon dumps your favourite reserves player for a young guy called Matty Lloyd. He’s the future. And watch that James Hird from the get-go. You’ll never regret it.

PPS I can’t take it anymore. Take all the cash you can get your hands on and invest it in property. Now.

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About petek8

Pete Evans has just finished going 12 months without watching any sport. The journey stemmed from a sense that the balance was out-of-whack with my time and my priorities. Everything seemed to revolve around creating enough time and space to fit in the last game, games, recap shows or space to surf the net for the latest numbers and analysis. The cycle never ends - one season leads into another, seasons overlap if you follow various sports and the media's insatiable appetite for a new 'story' means that even the greatest of achievements aren't heralded for more than 3 days. So I stepped away from the machine for awhile and intentionally engaging with the journey by writing about it.

5 responses »

  1. Brilliant column. But you needed to include the time you claimed Shane O’Rourke “can’t be that fast” during school cricket and then squealed like a girl as he bowled. A young you needs to know he shouldn’t start on the front foot. Ha ha ha.

    There’s no doubt staying involved in sport is more rewarding than watching it. At 36 and still umpiring wafl footy, despite spending the vast majority in the reserves, every game and training session is still fun.

    Ok, so six 400s, four 300s and eight 200s wasn’t actually fun last week. But the banter is fun.

    And when you bump into people you haven’t seen for years, it’s amazing how the bond of hard training sessions or games remains. That’s why sport is awesome.

    Reply
  2. Brilliant E! It got me thinking about what music advice I would have given to a 15 year old Benjamin Catford. I might have to email you that one, but suffice to say it starts with… ‘Don’t be deceived by Grammy hype, TLC are not going to be CrazySexyCool in 5 years’ time.

    Reply
    • Dear 15 year old Ben,

      Please find 20-odd year old Pete Evans and introduce yourself. While you are watching a multitude of American sports, which you both love and getting some perspective on TLC, get online and book flights to whatever city Blur is playing their next gig. Once the games die down, play him the first 5 albums of Blur’s playlist which have been released so far. You won’t have to force things. Then patiently await the first album release by a band called Muse. You won’t regret things. Then get some pizza and buy some Apple stocks… 🙂

      Regards,
      Older Pete

      Reply

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