A tough game for the Sea Stars

It was a tough game. There were two minutes to go. The score was 2-2. Ahmed was as excellent a striker as ever. He had scored both goals! Maggie was focussed as goalkeeper, scanning the field and defending like a hawk. Tension was mounting. We had to stay focussed and push ourselves for just a little longer. Everyone knows that the Sky Skaters are a good side and could raise their game at any time. It's alright, I kept telling myself. The match is going to be ours.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ahmed aim the ball at Flo, but then completely miss and kick it straight to a Sky Skater! Flo turned to Ahmed and shout at him, telling him that he's stupid, letting the whole team down. Ahmed's eyes started to well up with tears but he held them back. Then, just as Tom was about to strike, Jack, a Sea Star, stuck his leg out and tripped him up! Tom came crashing down! The ball went flying off into the distance. Dad, who was refereeing, immediately blew his whistle and ran to check that Tom hadn't been hurt. Luckily he only had a grazed knee. The game was up. It was a draw.

Even though Tom wasn't hurt, I was shocked! I couldn't understand how Jack and Flo could have behaved like that. Our team had been competitive and argued before but this felt like a step too far.

Dad gathered us around and looked straight at us for what seemed like minutes. He didn't look angry, just really disappointed, which was somehow worse. Jack lowered his head and stared at the ground. Finally Dad said,

‘Do any of you know who Pierre de Coubertin is?'

Pierre de who? I thought. Everybody looked confused. What's this got to do with Jack tripping up Tom?

‘Pierre de Coubertin founded the Modern Olympic Games. He founded them upon three values: Respect. Excellence. Friendship. He wanted people to use sport to come together and celebrate each other's achievements.  He wanted different countries to put disagreements to one side and play fairly. This summer, some of our world's greatest athletes are going to come together in London to compete in the 2012 Olympics. If they were to behave like you just did, they would be disqualified immediately. All their years of hard training would go to waste. They may even be banned from ever taking part in the Olympics again. How can you be excellent if you cannot be respectful and you cannot be a friend?'

My dad's question froze everyone into silence.

Then, without being asked, Flo turned to Ahmed and whispered,

 ‘I'm really sorry I shouted. I didn't mean to upset you. Everyone makes mistakes. I think you're a really good striker and a great team mate'

Jack turned to Tom and said ‘I'm so sorry I hurt you. I wanted to win so much that I forgot that my friends are more important than winning'.

I just smiled. What Dad said changed the way I think about sport forever. I think I'll always remember who Pierre le Coubertin is.