“Be strong and courageous.”
Are these the words you say to yourself before you step out on to the court? Maybe not. People don’t seem to think like that these days. We are often told that sport is about being active and having fun. That’s the main thing isn’t it?
But there is more to sport than just having fun and being active. There are so many emotions that come into play. Success, when a goal is scored. Pride, when your coach praises you for a good pass. Desperation, as you chase a loose ball. Fear when the scores are level and the ball is in the opposition’s hands. Anger, when the umpire makes the wrong call. Shame, when you are called for breaking early for a centre pass. Joy, when the game is won. Disappointment, when the game is lost. Regret, when thinking of the missed goal that cost the team the game. There is so much that goes into a game of netball. You need to invest yourself into the game not just physically but emotionally too. You need to be strong and courageous.
Can you think of a time when you needed strength and courage? How about this: Do you remember a game where you are facing that team that always seem to beat you? How about that time when you play against that player who is always aggressive and physical and somehow you always seem to cop a stray elbow? What about the umpire who always seems to favour the opposition regardless of what happens on the court? What about that time when you are worried about a reoccurring injury and your team has no substitutes? How about when you are 10 goals down coming into the last quarter? Maybe you need the courage to get on the court and the strength to see it through.
Be strong and courageous. These are the words given to Joshua on the eve of battle as he stands over the land God has promised the Israelites. In the aftermath of Moses death as he is appointed Israel’s new leader God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. He repeats this phrase to Joshua four times in the first chapter and a fifth time later just to make sure he gets the message. Clearly Joshua needed reminding of this too (Joshua 1:1-18).
The WPUCNC field of battle
“When a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility… people quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it…” – C.S Lewis
Have you ever watched a new team of 8 & Unders play for the first time? The players can’t seem to remember the rules, the shooters don’t have the strength to get the ball high enough to go in the ring let alone the accuracy. Even throwing and catching seems like hard work. Many a despairing coach at this stage has thrown up the prayer “God help me”. Lewis says “Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being given.” Quite often what God is teaching us in this stage is exactly what we need: perseverance. Lewis continues, “very often what God first helps us towards is not the thing itself but just this power of always trying again.”
Sport has this ability to teach us life skills if you are willing to learn. As Lewis says, “This process trains us in habits of the soul”. More important than any skill, goal or victory is having the strength and the courage to pursue perseverance in spite of your fears and reservations.
“Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong and let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
My question for you this week is what can you do to be strong and courageous? Maybe it is to keep trying in the face of defeat. Maybe it is getting the strength and courage to return from injury and get back out on the court. Maybe it is to have the strength required to take the umpire’s bad decisions and the courage to keep giving it your all.
Chaplain | Westbourne Park Uniting Church Netball Club
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