Chan eil sinn idir ag aithneachadh a’ bhuannachd ann an spòrs

Nuair a bha mi a’ feuchainn ri beagan faochaidh fhaighinn bho dhol a-mach agus còmhstrì a’ Phàrtaidh Thòraidheach, thàinig mi tarsainn air sreath telebhisein snog leis an t-seann chluicheadair criogaid Freddie Flintoff agus e a’ feuchainn ri gràisg bho bhaile Phreston a thàladh gu spòrs.

Tha an t-seann chluicheadair criogaid Freddie Flintoff a’ feuchainn ri òigridh a thàladh chun gheama (Dealbh: BBC)
Tha an t-seann chluicheadair criogaid Freddie Flintoff a’ feuchainn ri òigridh a thàladh chun gheama (Dealbh: BBC)

[English-language version below]

Fàg an-dràsta dè cho math no cho dona ‘s a tha an spòrs seo – ged a bha sgeulachd bheag thaitneach anns a’ phrògram mu òganach a theich Afghanistan, agus abair g’ eil tàlant aige le bat – bha am prògram a’ foillseachadh duilgheadas a tha a’ dol fada seachad air crìochan aon gheam’.

‘S ann bho Shiorrachd Lancaster a tha Flinntoff fhèin agus chan ann bho theaghlach beartach; an dual-chainnt aige cho làidir ‘s a bha i riamh. Ach, abair g’ eil cùisean air atharrachadh bhon a bha esan na bhalach.

Gach àite dhan dèigheadh e, bha seann chlubaichean criogaid agus na pàircean nam masladh; na toglaichean a’ tuiteam às a’ chèile, loma-làn graffiti, agus na pàircean a bha aig àm cho grinn a-nis le feur suas gu ghlùinean agus a' feitheamh ri obair leasachaidh coimearsalta. Chìtheadh thu a’ ghoirt na aodann.

‘S e Flintoff fear dhe na cluicheadairean criogaid as ainmeile a tha ann agus shaoileadh tu gum biodh sin a’ ciallachadh ruideigin. Ach fiù ‘s a’ phàirc far an do dh’ionnsaich e fhèin cluiche, cha robh ann an-diugh ach fàsach grod.

‘S dòcha gu bheil rudeigin sònraichte ann mu chrìonadh criogaid anns am pàirt seo de cheann a tuath Shasainn, ach ma bheir thu sùil timcheall, chan eil ach an aon rud ri fhaicinn fad is farsaing.

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Innsidh iadsan a tha an sàs ann an spòrs le sgiobaidhean – fiù ‘s ball-coise fhèin – gu bheil an àireamh òigridh a tha a’ gabhail pàirt air crìonadh.

Tha e furasta a ràdh gu bheil a’ choire ri cur air teicneòlas is mar a tha an saoghal air atharrachadh; tha tòrr dhen òigridh an-diugh glaiste nan seòmraichean-cadail ri linn.

Ach tha e cuideachd ri linn ‘s nach eil na h-ùghdarrasan a’ tuigsinn gu ceart a’ bhuannachd a tha a’ tighinn bhon a bhith an sàs ann an spòrs, agus chan e dìreach bho thaobh slàinte, ged a tha sin gu cinnteach.

Aig a’ char as fheàrr, gheibh thu caraidean a sheasas fad beatha, tha thu ag ionnsachadh a bhith ag obair mar sgioba agus e a’ toirt dhut tuigsinn gum feum thu a bhith an urra ri daoine eile – leasanan bunaiteach airson beatha shoirbheachail a leanntainn.

Ach, nuair a tha cuideam a’ tighinn air an sporan phoblach, mar a tha thairis na deich bliadhna is barrachd a dh’fhalbh, dè a’ chiad rud a tha a’ fulang? Tha goireasan spòrs is cur-seachad, mar a chunnaic sinn cho soilleir ann am “Freddie Flintoff: Field of Dreams”.

Tha fios nach e cluiche spòrs ann an sgioba an fhreagairt na h-aonar airson saoghal a cho sgaraichte, airson dèiligeadh leis mar a tha tinneas inntinn agus cus reamharachd air fàs cho comanta.

Ach nuair a smaoineacheas tu gu bheil na duilgheadasan sin cho bitheanta nar saoghal an-duigh, tha e air leth cianail nach eil an roinn a’ faighinn fada a bharrachd taic.

Chan eil fhios a’m ciamar a chrìochnaicheas an sreath le Flintoff agus bidh e inntinneach. Ach cuiridh mi geall gum faigh cuid dhen òigridh bhochd seo spionnadh à bhith an sàs ann an spòrs comhla rin co-aoisean; agus gun toir e dhaibh togail is misneachd beagan nas fheàrr a dheànamh nam beatha fhèin. ‘S nach ann ann an sin fhèin a tha a’ mhìorbhail; mìorbhail ris a bheil sinn a’ cur ar cùlaibh.

English-language version:

Desperate from some light relief from the Tory party horror show, I happened across a nice wee television series fronted by Freddie Flintoff to get kids from a housing estate in Preston interested in cricket, which we were reminded is England’s most elitist sport.

Ignore the relative merits of hitting a ball with a wooden bat (although there was a lovely little subplot about a young Afghani refugee who looks blessed with no little talent and determination), this had far wider implications than extending the appeal of one particular pastime.

Flintoff himself is a very proud Lancastrian and from a humble background; the unmistakable accent as strong as ever. But he was in for a shock.

Everywhere he travelled in his home county he found once proud cricket grounds in a state of disrepair; pavilions falling to bits, defaced by graffiti, and overgrown playing fields awaiting the death knell of concrete development.

Even where one of England’s most celebrated and well-known cricketers made his senior debut was now nothing but a ramshackle wasteland.

Perhaps there is something in particular about the demise of cricket in the north-west of England, but anecdotal evidence suggests it’s not an isolated case, and it’s to the detriment of wider society.

Those involved in all sorts of team sports – even football – will tell you that participation among the youth is in decline.

It’s rather obvious to point the finger of blame at the competition that technology brings – there is no need for kids now to leave the confines of their bedroom for entertainment – but it’s also because politicians and authorities have failed to understand the huge benefits, and not just from a health point of view, that being involved in sport brings.

At its best, it forges lifelong friendships, teaches teamwork and provides an in-built understanding that the collective is far more powerful than the individual – all invaluable lessons in life.

Yet when pressure comes to bear on the public purse, as we’ve had now for ten years and more, what’s the first thing to suffer? Community-run sports and leisure facilities, as witnessed in “Freddie Flintoff’s Field of Dreams”.

It would be a stretch to think that team sports alone will provide a solution to an increasingly disintegrated society, the mental health epidemic and obesity crisis, but given that very real backdrop, the lack of support provided to team sports at grassroots level seems staggeringly short-sighted.

I don’t how the Flintoff series will conclude but I’ll bet my bottom dollar that some of these impoverished and opportunity-starved kids will have been energised and enthused and will set their sights a little higher as a result. It’s a minor miracle at work and one we look destined to continue to ignore.

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