This was my youngest son's first A-League game. To say he was excited was an understatement. As his father, my aim was to make the game enjoyable for a 5 year old and stress free for me. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was there to watch the football, cheer on the mighty Brisbane Roar and celebrate a win.
I know he understood the magnitude of what we were going to and we put a plan in place. We talked about transport to and from the game, safety and security arrangements, snack approach and the all important toilet strategy.
Discussing a toilet strategy with a 5 year old is not a complex exercise, particularly for a soccer game where you do not want to miss a goal. You go before you get on the bus, when you get to the stadium, just before the game kicks off and just as the half time whistle goes. Easy. Simple. Effective…if the game doesn't go into extra time. 15 minutes each way. One goal could be the difference. And this is a historical moment whichever way it goes.
You watch intently. The heart races with every moment. Then out of the corner of your eye, you notice your 5 year old has finally finished drinking a 500ml bottle of water. Was that the same bottle he just started at half time? Or is the empty bottle on the ground that bottle, and this is now his second bottle of water? Not to worry. Your confidence in your toilet strategy stands you in good stead.
The first stanza of extra time finishes. You feel a tug on the arm and your son asks to take him to the toilet. You ignore him but the tapping continues. In one foul swoop you scoop your son up, race him to the first available toilet with the queue outside the entry. You run up the ramp to the next available toilet, usher him quickly in as the whistle goes for the start of the second half of extra time (score still 1-1).
He looks up at you, "Dad, I can't reach." You lift him up and he stands on your feet to finish what he started. You swoop him up, race out of the toilet and see a corner awarded. You make a wise, life changing decision. You lift your son up so he can see the corner being taken. A mad scramble ensues over the next minute and the mighty Brisbane Roar, by way of their excitement machine, Henrique, score the winning goal.
You cheer, you hug your son, you high-five the security guard standing next you. You wipe away the sweat and the beer from yourself and your son that was thrown in the air. You slump down in relief knowing you nearly missed the moment.
You turn just in time to see about 10 guys running out of the toilet hastily trying to restore clarity to their pants and zippers. You see children with fathers running up a ramp with bewildered looks, but smiling and jumping with joy. Who are they kidding? They missed the opportunity to see THE goal. They missed the opportunity to see the lead up to THE goal. They missed the opportunity to be part of THE whole moment.
Every day God gives us opportunities and moments to cherish. God puts people across our path to bless with our presence or an encouraging word. "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4 verse 5)."
He gives us opportunities to make a difference in peoples' lives. He gives us opportunities to display His love to others. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Galatians 6 verse 10)."
Don't miss the opportunity today.
Russell Modlin teaches Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html