As an older gay man, you’d think there is nothing about balls that could amaze me. There are still things that give me hope and form the basis for feelgood stories.

I joined friends from the soccer club for a BBQ, knowing I would spend more time chatting than kicking a ball with my gammy old knees. I brought a beach volleyball along, so I ended up with a few like-minded nuts passing a ball around.

One of the players showed good hand-eye coordination, was quick on his feet, but very harsh about his performance. He told me he was a good primary school Newcomb ball player, but his year 7 PE teacher stopped him pursuing volleyball, saying, “You’re not good enough to be a part of the team”.
The teacher may have been right about his skills, size or attitude. But he was wrong about the person, who was deeply hurt, and stopped playing all sport.

I watched him at his first training session and noticed how quickly he took up skills. He was a delight to coach, dedicated and sincere. He glowed when he achieved a new skill or a difficult pass.

My gut feeling is he will play State League volleyball within two years.

All the while he will gain confidence and will build relationships. The relationships will always be with the ball in between — fun, safe, friendly and sincere.

A week later I joined the Adelaide Spikers. Here again was a new player who was much harder on himself than was warranted.

With some quality coaching and specific teaching points, success came little by little. It was fantastic to see the other members of the Adelaide Spikers follow on, ensuring his experiences were positive.

I use the ball analogy only because it is something close to my, well, heart. I know many people are not ball sports lovers, but excel at rowing, climbing, cycling, running or dancing. In all these sports it is the structure, equipment or technique that forms the link or bond. It is non-threatening and provides a doorway for strong relationships.

QSAM promotes many activities and groups. Make one your own: Queer Sports Alliance Melbourne: www.queersportsmelbourne.org

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