Written by Marcus Padley (pictured) for The Age and originally published in the Business Section on 23rd April 2015. Posted in Front Page News

We are all flying through life. Busy busy busy. Important things to do. So very important. Can’t talk, can’t stop, can’t go, can’t come, can’t make it, can’t do it. Busy. We all have our own reasons. I write an average 6,600 words a day 250 days of the year. That’s 1.65 million words per annum. The average length of a novel is 60,000 words. I write 27.5 novels a year. Excuse me then if I’m a bit busy. 

On top, of that I have taken on the Team Management role of Archie’s Under 13 Footy side this year. I’ve done it before and it is a great pleasure, but it is time consuming because as any Team Manager of any suburban sporting side will tell you, it is a busy job. Every week we must sensitively receive and reply to perhaps a couple of hundred emails from the club, the coaches and the parents, emails that blur themselves into the other two thousand emails we already get at work each day. 

In our squad there are fifty four kids, two teams and over a hundred parents and significant others as well as the coaches and club officials. Every week for fifteen rounds we monitor injuries, roster boys on and off, tell them where they’re playing, tell them when they’re playing, whether it’s home or away, whether they need blue shorts or white, flesh coloured skins not black, no mouthguards no play and provide a Google Map of how to get there. We handle the administration of email bounce backs, the updates to the contact database, the requests for days off, a myriad of questions and the sensitive issue of shirt numbers and sizes and every week there are twelve jobs to fill. God forbid if there are no Oranges and Lollies. 

Then there’s “The bag”. Every week it has to contain clean bibs for the Coach, Assistant Coach, Umpire Escort, Team Manager, Runner, Boundary Umpire, Water Carrier and Trainer. The medical kit has to be present and correct. The flags and goal umpire’s coat clean and ready to go. The whistles disinfected, the two game balls blown up and the spare jumpers, mouthguards and pump available. And did I mention the two bin liners. One full of lost property collected when we were brushing and hosing out the changing rooms after everyone had gone last game and one to pick up the dog poo and rubbish before everyone arrives for the next game. Did you know it’s a by-law that you can’t walk your dog on a football ground when kids are playing or training. I have yet to find the sniper rifle needed to enforce that one.  

Then there’s the timekeepers cards, the goal umpires cards, the siren, pencils and game pouch to collect and return on the day. The pads for the posts, the ground inspection report, the numbers for the scoreboard. And I haven’t even mentioned the team sheets and the Match Report. All in triplicate and signed and delivered back to the Club by 8pm. Oh, and the score for each quarter entered into the sporting pulse website before it locks you out, the collection of cash for the senior players sponsorship ($12 each please), rustling up support for the Club functions and communicating to parents the need for their kid to play in the correct uniform with the correct logos attached lest we get fined by the league after round 4.

And none of this is paid. To a man, the absolutely mammoth task of facilitating all the junior and the majority of senior sport across suburban Australia is delivered by a cohort of people who are just as busy as you.

We all worry about money but the truth is that the most precious, and as any volunteer will tell you, most rewarding gift you can give anyone these days, especially your family and kids, is time and all this technology driven rushing about that’s going on has elevated it to immeasurable heights. 

Simply turning up, ringing up, listening and being there is now the biggest compliment you can ever pay anyone. I remember one guest famously saying when asked whether he had bought a present for a celebrity’s birthday, “I’m here, that’s enough isn’t it?” It is. The next time someone turns up on your doorstep give them a big hug and say “Thanks”.  

Time. The most valuable asset on earth and the most generous of gifts. Give it, waste it, use it or lose it.

Marcus Padley is the author of the stock market newsletter Marcus Today. For a free trial go to marcustoday.com.au