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Memoires of a Waterboy - H2O and C-19

H2O and C-19

2020 sounded such a positive number. I looked forward to an exciting year and eagerly anticipated the footy season. Exercising and talking to people are two of my favourite things in life. Running the water for WFC gives me the opportunity to do both and allows me to volunteer in a meaningful way.

The Adelaide Fringe and football pre-season were in full swing in mid-March when SA suddenly went into Covid-19 shut-down. Many leagues cancelled: the GSFL decided to play a nine-round season.

Pre-season resumed in June but coaches and players had to adapt to small group, no-contact training. No-touch, no-share rules became compulsory. Trainers and water carriers were banned. I feared my season was over and wondered what I’d do to occupy my Saturday afternoons. I was delighted when I heard restrictions had been modified.

Waterboys were permitted to run water but only if each player drank from his individually labelled bottle. I looked down. Yep, two hands. I looked at the team sheet – 21 players. 21 into 2 didn’t go. I was either going to have to grow more hands, recruit more water carriers, or players were going to go thirsty.

My traditional way of running onto the oval with two bottles to give every player a drink and to offer words of encouragement, was gone. I was disappointed because the chat was my favourite part of the job. Under C-19 rules, if I carried two bottles, only the two named players could drink. The club purchased three 6-pack bottle carriers and labelled them Backs, Mids and Forwards so we could run six bottles onto the oval at the same time.

The trial game: players were told to bring their own labelled bottle. All did but one – the coach! I dashed to the canteen and bought him a Powerade. Half the players had labelled their bottles, half had filled their bottles (but not necessarily the same half as those with labels). It was a dog’s breakfast.

Game 1: the lads were better organised. Every player had his bottle (luckily the coach had dropped himself): most were filled and labelled. But when we put them into the 6-pack carriers, we couldn’t read the names.

Game 2: I bought tape and textas to label the top of each bottle so the names could be read whilst in the carriers. The system improved but running onto the oval carrying two 6-packs was heavy work (I suffer from PBS – Puny Biceps Syndrome).

Game 3: I decided that the on-ballers plus Burdie (my best customer since Bacco retired), had to be my priority. I bought six extra bottles and named them, then carried them to the top wing. I only ran water to those six players: the other on-field players went without until they interchanged or the quarter time breaks came along.

Games 4-7 were played during the cold winter weeks: most players got through each game by only drinking at the breaks. Not ideal. When Game 8 rolled around and the temperature rose to 25 degrees, the coach put out an SOS and Groomy helped me run water. Between us we distributed more water than usual but, both being fair-skinned, we also went through several litres of sunblock.

With finals fast approaching and warmer weather expected, we need more volunteers to run water in all grades. What are you doing on Saturday? (Or Sunday if it’s a finals weekend.)

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