I was 14 when I fell in love. Not with a girl, but with a sport. And in the years that followed, this chase has given me so much in return. We had our ups and downs, our fights and our frowns. There were times where I just felt so helpless. Hopeless, even. Those were times where I wanted to let everything go, to just acknowledge that things weren’t working out between us. Yet somehow, I forced myself to go on, perhaps out of spite and bitterness, in a bid to prove a point, to prove those shadows of doubt wrong.
But then I look around me, and I see them. I see the same faces that I have seen almost everyday. I see the same silhouettes that have accompanied me through the years. If anything has remained a constant in my life, it is them.
This is not a team hand-picked just for the sake of a competition. This is not a team with a roster selected just for the thrill of the win. We are not mercenaries.
This is a team that was formed through blood, sweat and tears. This is a team that started at nowhere near equilibrium. But this is a team that encouraged and fought alongside each other. This is a family; this is my family.
It is 2 in the morning as I catch myself writing this and there are another 11 hours to grind out with the team upon sunrise.
I will always remember every match that we’ve played, every team we’ve conquered and even every loss that we’ve suffered. I will always remember the suppers we ate, the jokes we shared and the laughter we always create. I will always remember all the disputes and troubles, and how we always managed to come out stronger. And I will always remember what was said and heard; the lessons my seniors taught me and the very same scriptures I will pass on to my juniors.
“It’s all about the heart,” someone once told me.
Sunburns and peeling skin, countless drills and scraped shins.
This sport has given me everything, and it stings a little to know that it’s almost time to let go. Goodbye, old friend, it was lovely while it lasted. And while I know that our paths will cross again, it will never be quite the same.
A torn shoulder, a crushed elbow and just about 3 weeks to go, when the date draws near, the day we finally part, know that it was the highest of honours to have played alongside each and every one of you.
Come what may, for this final gold is ours to claim.
To the words of 2004’s film Troy, “if they ever tell my story, let them say I walked with giants.”