After posting yesterday’s piece on Miep Gries I’ve been thinking about bravery. I write about bravery a lot. Nika’s story, ‘What’s Ukrainian for Football’ is about bravery. In it, Nika re-tells the true story of FC Start, a Ukrainian football team who, in 1942 occupied Kiev, bravely defied the order to lose to the German team, with tragic consequences. Their bravery inspires Nika herself to be brave; she confronts a team-mate who has been taunting her about being foreign.
Yet bravery isn’t always about fighting and wars. In the book I’m working on at the moment, Tabinda is scared of heading the ball. It seems such a small thing, doesn’t it, but it’s taken over her life. It not only effects the way she plays, it effects her relationship with her dad. He doesn’t understand why she’s so inconsistent on the field and because she daren’t tell him, everything gets blown out of proportion. Tabinda calls it headerphobia. People can have phobias – irrational fears – about all sorts of things. I saw a TV programme once where someone had a fear of baked beans. Then there’s Genuphobia (fear of knees) Helminthophobia (worms) Alektorophobia (chickens) Chionophobia (snow). The thing is, no matter how silly these things may seem to other people, to the sufferer it’s real and frightening.