Fool of the Year

Growing up as an abnormally tall human being, people presume that I’ll be good at sports. I’m constantly asked if I play basketball, many have commented that I would make an ideal midfielder for Gaelic football and once a customer in work even tried recruit me for the local women’s rugby team. Alas truth be told, I am not good at sports and I have never been good at sports. My height does not aid my clumsiness and does not make up for my lack of hand-eye co-ordination. This is why I currently play no sports but it wasn’t always like this.

Back in fourth class, I courageously made the decision to join the Gaelic team. I was the super sub on the sub club, a self-appointed title that my fellow girls on the sideline had helped me coin together. We had plenty of spare time to do such tasks. I would never get chosen to start while my twin sister would always get the spot. This led to a bit of confusion about who was the “sporty twin”. I received weekly congratulations from the teachers on the corridors. I would nod humbly, tired of attempting to explain their error.

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A photograph of my twin, cousin and I. They let me hold the cup because I was related to two of the actual talented players.

Yet my devotion to the game did not dwindle. I attended every match, supporting passionately from the sideline. Occasionally, I would even get a few minutes on the pitch in which I switched from chatting to the other members of the sub club to engaging with conversation with my marker, who was never quite as enthusiastic about getting to know one another.

After one and a half years of dedication to the game, I was to attend the prestigious awards ceremony. Anybody who was anybody in the primary school sports scene was to be there. I went with little to no expectations. I would’ve been satisfied with a participant certificate and a packet of Tayto. This is why I was unprepared for the announcement of my name for the Player of the Year Award. I sat frozen in my chair. This was not possible. My whole Gaelic career probably amounted to less than thirty minutes. Then the thought that I might actually be awarded for my positive attitude came to me. Perhaps, it had all paid off.

Hesitantly, I walked up to the stage to be presented with my greatest achievement to date. A sense of pride and smugness possessed me as I passed my classmates. However just as I extended my hand to receive this precious trophy, my manager hurried over to the microphone to crush my spirits. My hand remained floating in mid-air as she informed the entire sports hall that there had been a mistake. The award was meant for another Gemma, a superior Gaelic player. I forced my hand downwards away from the trophy that would never make it to my shelf. Regretting my choice in seating, I walked, mortified, with my head down all the way to the back off the hall. As the other Gemma took to the podium, I fled the scene and enjoyed the remainder of the ceremony from the toilets.

Surprisingly, my Gaelic career did not end that night. I kept it up for another two years until any love I had for it was completely and utterly gone. However, the memory of that awards ceremony has yet to leave me. Whenever anyone asks me about my sporting experiences, I recount this story in great vivid detail and they no longer pester me about joining back.

Here lies Gemma’s sporting endeavours. RIP.

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