Brave Lya reminded us all that taking part is more important than winning

Brave Lya reminded us all that taking part is more important than winning
Lya Gilhooly scoring a goal for Presentation Secondary School against St Al's. Picture: Denis Minihane.

SOMETIMES we get so caught up in our own world of sport and coaching, that we forget.

We forget what really matters. We forget what's important.

It's not the winning, it's not the three points or the trophies, it's the kids, their development and their enjoyment of what they are doing. It must always be that, but in our quest for glory, we can forget and regularly do.

In my case, it's soccer and coaching is my passion. I love to win games (what coach doesn't?) but there are more important things to consider and every now and then you get a reminder of what's important and how important sport can be in the lives of those who play the game.

Last Tuesday morning I was coaching Presentation Ballyphehane Secondary School in a soccer game against St Al's in Ballyphehane Park. My daughter Alix was playing, so I was asked by the school to help out.

Lya Gilhooly with fellow students and best friends from Presentation Ballyphehane, Jesse and Alix Mendez. Picture: Denis Minihane
Lya Gilhooly with fellow students and best friends from Presentation Ballyphehane, Jesse and Alix Mendez. Picture: Denis Minihane

I did and have been doing a bit of coaching with them for a few weeks now. We lost the game, it was our first one of the new season and I have no doubt we will get better over time and win some games.

But what struck me most on the day was the joy, the smile and the happiness that came across the face of Lya Gilhooly, who was playing her first soccer game since her horrific accident with a firework in October.

It brought home to me just how important sport and in this case, soccer is to the life and happiness of Lya. I will never forget the look of happiness on her face when she realised she was allowed to play in the game.

Playing means so much to Lya, and sometimes in our quest for glory, we forget that playing the game is all that matters. 

I was touched by the response of her fellow teammates to seeing Lya tog out again and play. They made her feel special and she felt alive again because she was back playing soccer.

And of course, being the great player she is, she scored, but that does not matter. She was back playing only five weeks after she nearly lost her life. 

She lost four fingers and all that kept her going over the past few weeks of recovery and operations was soccer and the thought of getting back playing with her school, her club and eventually with Cork City U17 women's team. I have no doubt she will achieve these things.

She is a remarkable, spirited, determined young lady.

But the big lesson for me was how important sport can be in the lives of people.

Bill Shankly is still wrong when he said soccer is more important than life or death, but there can be no denying the importance of sport in the lives of those who play it, especially in the life of Lya Gilhooly.

Lya Gilhooly being applauded by her team-mates. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Lya Gilhooly being applauded by her team-mates. Picture: Denis Minihane.

 

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