The Mighty Lions & the Big Match

The Mighty Lions & the Big Match
Tom Chapman and Chris Dickason
Welbeck Publishing

I’ve seen first hand both as a teacher and when taking young relations to compete in tennis tournaments, the enormous pressure that some parents put on their youngsters; it’s almost as though the entire thing is about them and winning/success, rather than supporting and giving encouragement to their children. So I think a book such as this debut picture book, written by Tom Chapman (founder of The Lions Barber Collective, a charity for suicide prevention and awareness focussing on the mental health of boys and men) is as important for adults as for young readers/listeners.

The story focuses on young Abel and Drake, soccer players and members of the Mighty Lions team and their cup final match against the Tigers, Abel being the player suffering from acute anxiety even before stepping onto the pitch.

It’s a tense, close match

but the pressure Abel feels from his team members, coach and parents militates against him performing at his best, let alone enjoying the game; and in the end Tigers are victorious.

However, once the brothers explain, their parents are understanding and apologetic, “ … you played your best and that’s all that matters,” Mum says. Dad in turn offers some wise words, “ … Either way, we love you – not the result of the game.”

Chris Dickason’s bright illustrations convey the feelings of all the characters, especially the two brothers, as well showing the on field drama of the match.

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