While planning to end my Sunday with a witty tweet, I suddenly saw Mike Limpag’s tweet about Coach Graeme. I didn’t like what I saw. I wanted to forget what I saw. It was an article entitled “Mackinnon to leave Global FC,” which pretty much says everything you need to know: Coach Graeme has resigned and has decided to leave Global FC.
In four words: It broke my heart. How could it possibly not? I think I’m still at the first stage of grief. I see and talk to him almost every day. He’s been a part of my daily life for a good few months, and I’ve grown to see him as my oldest best friend and mentor. I never met my grandfathers and he was the closest I had to a grandfather-type figure. I understand his reasons for leaving—I’m not angry or anything, by the way—but I cried over it because I didn’t see this coming. I knew he would leave one day but didn’t think that day would come so soon. I will miss him!
Like the players, I found my second home in football. I found myself again in the world of football and Coach Graeme helped me grow into someone who has found his place. He would question my commitment incessantly until I fully understood that football is more than a game. The sport can teach you a lot of things beyond skill and strategy on the pitch and he wanted me to learn that under his wing.
Only Coach Graeme could deal with my nonsense and childish behavior. He didn’t mind if I asked tons of questions: “What went wrong during the game?” “Was the referee biased?” “Do you have Jamba Juice in Australia?” “Can I ride the pelican in Australia and keep it as my pet?” Surprisingly, some of my questions brought out the wise man in him, and his quotable quotes came naturally. One of my favorites is on making mistakes. He said, “When we make mistakes, that’s the only time we realize that we have so much room.”
Growing up, I had never been cool with my coaches. There was always this huge space between us and I don’t blame them. I played those sports for the sake of playing them, unaware of the beauty in sport (except for football, of course!). Then I met Coach Graeme and he made me rethink things: A coach can be your friend, your family. He doesn’t look at people and see them as too young or too old for what life has to offer. He listens to all opinions, even mine. He embraces diversity and understands how football can bring people together. He encourages us to speak our minds and that’s what I’m doing right now.
I still remember the first day we met. I said to him, “Were you named after the crackers? Because I love graham crackers!” As my favorite cliché goes, the rest is history.