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In a picture-perfect paddock in Whangarei, I joined a group of family paparazzi leaning on a fence watching our NZHL XRACE families make their way around Barge Park.
We were watching the memory challenge and father daughter team, dad Johan and daughter Annabella (pictured), caught our eye.
Dad was struggling.
The world’s greatest sportsmen - like our Kiwi cricket legend, Kane Williamson possess this incredible X factor where they can completely block out all pressure around them and focus on the moment.
Annabella was their teams Peter Burling, our ice for blood America’s Cup skipper, and dad, well, let’s just say he wasn’t.
He was having a moment and, in his words, “had nothing” as he stared down at his challenge card that was reading like hieroglyphics.
He simply could not decode the instructions let alone the challenge.
But Annabella could, displaying surgical calmness, she placed her hand on dad’s forearm - held up the card and in a most gentle and reassuring tone said to her dad:
“I just want you to locate the letter next to the kangaroo. Also look for the letter that has a hand being held out.”
She points to the card.
Her tone and instruction broke the spell for dad and he trotted off to the challenge board to locate a kangaroo and a hand.
Dad came back to Anabella.
“Well done dad” she said and then sent dad back with more instruction.
The child was absolutely the parent in the moment.
Post event, I located the family sitting on the side of a hill enjoying a sausage sizzle and the last of the evening sun.
We chatted about the challenge, dad immediately raising his arm saying “I had nothing” and mum had a quiet chuckle, Annabella a little embarrassed by the fuss.
This tiny story meant everything to our small production team as I relayed the tale over a very late curry, post pack down.
I won’t deny that the run up to that event was stressful with the changes in lockdown restrictions. It was tough on our team and everyone else.
But seeing a daughter quietly become her teams anchor - when things got a bit prickly for dad is all the inspiration we needed.
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