Monday, August 16, 2004

SPORT, SPORT, SPORT

I am seriously happy to start my news with the victory of South Africa over New Zealand in the Tri-Nations Rugby.

To be honest, I am really not a major rugby fan myself, but I love what the game represents and I love the energy around it. It is different to American Football and English Soccer (in England they call their soccer football – this gets confusing!). Kind of like in South Africa a biscuit is what the Americans call a cookie and in England a scone is what the Americans call a biscuit. It gets to where you are tempted to work that one out with diagrams!

Although rugby is very much a southern hemisphere game, it has an active following in my household. My stepson David belongs to the Morris Lions High School Rugby Club. He is a brilliant rugby player and very involved with the club.

Last year, in support of the growth of the club, Daniel and I introduced an award for the Player’s Player of the Year. We donated a trophy in memory of my brother Willie who passed away March 17th, 2003. My brother really loved watching the game and used to do so with Daniel. We thought this would be a really cool way to remember him and the club welcomed it.

The team members vote their choice for the Player’s Player of the Year. He receives a trophy, which he keeps for a year and then passes it to the next winner. He remains with a miniature version of the trophy and a club shirt with the award name embroidered on the front as well.

Being the first year, I presented the award last year and Daniel did it this year. I said to him that we should alternate each year to avoid the presentations becoming boring and I didn’t want to feel like the Duchess of Wimbledon. The presentation is made at the beautiful home of one of the team members. His parents host a picnic in their garden that truly looks like a park with a beautiful pool.

The first presentation was pretty hard to make, as it was just a few months after Willie had died. My brother lived in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He took ill; Daniel and I flew out to see him. We spent a week with him and returned home. A week later he died.

In spite of having made a series of bad choices over a period of time in his life that resulted in his premature death at age 56, he was most certainly my hero. I love him deeply and miss him tremendously. Somehow, the rugby victory we enjoy makes me feel a sense of closeness to him, which is why I chose to start my updates after this vacation break, with this posting.

It is one of a celebration of life, love, achievement and good times.

I found a copy of the speech I made at last year’s celebration, which I will add in here because it explains where the game fits into our lives.
Begin speech:
Our family has been in the United States for almost two years. Moving a family this size around the world is a huge undertaking. People toss the words “get a life” around as easily as one would throw a ball against the wall, but I wonder how many people actually know what goes into getting a new life.

A very important aspect of this process is to find groups and individuals who are like-minded, so that you can quickly gain a sense of identity and belonging. This can be a daunting task when you actually don’t know where to start.

It is for this reason that I stand here today with a huge sense of both pride and achievement. Sensing one day that our son David was starting to have serious withdrawal symptoms from not playing rugby, I decided that there just had to be a club out there, and I was determined to find it. I know this is the land of baseball and football, but please, God, I asked silently, help me stop this child from pacing the halls and direct me to a rugby club.

I went onto the internet and within a few minutes was on the phone to my husband, Daniel insisting he phoned that very day to find out if Morris Lions was a suitable club for David. The rest, as they say, is history.

For those who don’t know who Posh and Becks are …. David Beckham plays soccer for Manchester United and is regarded as England’s top player. His wife Victoria, is ex Spice Girl, Posh. If you are wondering why I am mentioning this, it is because if Posh can get on TV and say she doesn’t know the rules of a soccer game, I can certainly stand up here and say, I don’t know the first thing about rugby other than what you want to do is score a try! However, what I do know is that this is a game that requires strength, both of body and spirit. It takes commitment, integrity, passion, sportsmanship, skill and discipline.

I wanted to dedicate something to the living memory of my brother, who unfortunately recently died a premature death. In his youth, like all other South African scholars, he enjoyed playing school rugby. In his later years, he was an equally avid armchair supporter.

The Willie Blumberg Memorial Award acknowledges the player voted by his peers for having given his all at each match, for always being an active member of the club, socially as well as on the field, who has shown exemplary sportsmanship and is the personification of a great all around player and personality.

It is therefore with great pleasure, that Daniel and I, on behalf of the team members, acknowledge OWEN LEE as the Morris Lions High School Rugby Player’s Player of the Year 2003.
End speech.

When Daniel got up to make his presentation this year, he was overcome with emotion and really had to take some time to settle himself. He is such an amazing person and I admire him for how he has no qualms about sharing his emotions in situations like this. Most guys would think the last place you might find a man moved to tears is at a rugby club. It really was a special moment and although this award is so not about me in any way at all, Daniel’s honesty about his feelings made me feel honored and I really hoped my brother was looking down on us and seeing how deeply he is loved.

We were very pleased to hand the award to Michael Webber – a well deserving winner!

 
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