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  • Writer's pictureOli Shawyer

A love letter to sport...

Updated: Mar 28, 2020

The sporting landscape around the world has forever changed. Everyone of us is professionally impacted in some way or another, flowing through to the personal side of our lives. Lots of incredibly talented friends and contacts have either lost their jobs or had them put on hold. It's hard to comprehend, even harder to understand where it all lands in the coming months... even years.

But one thing I know is that sport will forever have the power to change the world, and because of its meaning, it's role in life, in culture, and its ability to help us escape, connect, experience and feel, it will find its way back into our day-to-day lives. It will find a way through. It always has and it always will.

Dear Sport...

I don't particularly remember the first time we met. Where was I? Who was I with?

Was it when bat was in hand out the back of the MacDougal's house, around the corner from home at another weekend family BBQ? Or was it when the TV was blaring in the background at Nan and Pa's with cheers and jeers for the soon to be known Magpies? I keep searching my mind, my memories to call on that exact moment... I can't place you.

But I do know that it didn't take long for our relationship to become more than just an awkward hello. You were everywhere. We became inseparable.

Yellow ball, racquet. Red ball, cricket bat. Orange ball, chain nets. Rugby ball, mouth guards. Football, red cards. Sherrin, bruised hands.

Outside against the fence. Inside against the walls. Side-stepping every piece of furniture. Palming off every family member.

I tried everything I could get my hands on. And when I wasn't running around with my mates on a field or a court playing, I was sitting with family and friends screaming at the game right in front of me, TV or at the ground.

Every moment I spent with you was full of raw emotion. Ecstasy, admiration, apprehension, amazement, distraction, sadness, anger... maybe even rage. Nothing made me feel more.

Time with you was always surrounded by people I desperately wanted to be around. You gave me confidence. You taught me how to believe in myself. Any given Saturday, or Sunday, I had an opportunity to be a hero. My teammates hero. My family's hero. Most importantly, my own hero.

I aspired to be admired. I wanted to be Andrew Johns. I wanted to be Tony Lockett. Pat Rafter, Steve Waugh, Harry Kewell and George Gregan. I idolised the heroes that I watched every day. They were more than human. They were god-like.

Today I want to be Kalyn Ponga. I want to be Buddy Franklin. Ash Barty, Nathan Lyon, Sam Kerr and David Pokock. I still idolise these individuals as heroes and still, at 34, wish I was one of them, capable of guiding and providing hope and inspiration to millions and millions of people from all different walks of life. Here and around the world.

You introduce me to strangers who become friends. Every day Australians who become mentors. And you give me an extended family that continues to grow.

For many years, I've watched you give that, and so much more, to so many.

Sport, you have changed my world. And you've changed the world for many people I know. And albeit you're not here at the moment... you will be back. You will continue to inspire, encourage, unite, and empower again.

I can't wait to sit in the stands again. To join my grandparents and cheer and jeer at the TV. To sing the team song in the sheds with my teammates.

And whilst I'll have to wait for now... it won't be forever.

I'll see you soon.


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