I wonder what the material will be like? Will it be fitted, or will it allow plenty of room to move in? Will it have that new clothes smell to it when it is given to me? Do we have to tuck it into the top of our trousers, or do we leave it out? What shade of red is it? I mean, is it that shade of red that I have loved from childhood? What exactly will be printed on it? Why do we only get one shirt when we can potentially be playing for three days and cannot wash it as we will be staying in a hotel? I am not even going to think about how I will keep white trousers clean for even one day let alone three. I am not moaning though as my dream of playing in a sports shirt for my country has come true. Well, almost.
I was far more tomboy than princess whilst growing up and was the happiest whilst caked in mud. Growing up with brothers and having mostly male friends around where I lived meant that I could usually be found playing fox and hounds in forests, searching for tadpoles in muddy ponds or happily running around a pitch. The pitch was probably one of my favourite places. The challenge to shoot past the oppositions, cover immense ground and deliver the ball between the embracing structure of the goals kept the game alive and the passion burning. Usually being the only girl on the pitch meant that the boys took it easy on me, but I wasn’t always as gentle with them. I was an Aries on a mission and had no time for gentle play when our team win depended on it.
Football was okay, it passed the time, but it was not as good as rugby. Rugby was my kind of game. I loved how it was always kept alive, where bursts of energy and unexpected twists and turns made minutes pass by in a flash. When rugby got a bit mild for us, we took the board game Blood Bowl onto the pitch and changed rules along the way to make it our own. The stinging of the icy cold wet ball slamming into my face can still be felt today, but I am so glad that I got to fall in love with the pitch as I did. I was far from the best player (maybe even the worst), but as a child I dreamt big that I would wear a shirt for Wales. Screaming at the television with my father during the internationals only fuelled my desire to play one day for my country. The problem was I only played for fun and never joined a team, so my dream stayed in my head and my heart.
Fast forward nearly three decades and part of the dream has come true. Okay, it is not rugby unfortunately (I don’t think I could be picked even for a toddler’s team), but it is still for Wales. In five weeks, I will be playing Bowls with the Wales Visually Impaired Team in Scotland and loving every minute of it. Okay, the adrenaline may not rush though my veins like it did on the pitch, but it still sounds fun to do. With a body built for comfort not speed these days, I am looking forward to wearing my shirt with pride. After listening to Wales win the Grand Slam this weekend, I can only imagine the pride of the boys and girls being able to wear their shirts through the win that has lifted a nation.
Childhood dreams can manifest into reality in a multitude of different ways. It is never too late to achieve what you once thought was impossible, even if it is not in the way that you expected it.