Sport is good for kids, and not only from a health and fitness point of view. As well as the health benefits of exercise, sport is excellent in teaching life skills such as communication, planning, and organization. Sport teaches children about relationships, teamwork, how to conduct themselves in victory, and how to handle disappointment when they lose. Plus, there is an educational perspective as it may involve following events geographically, learning about the rules, reading about their favorite personalities. There are many things you can do as a parent to encourage their interest.
Join in with them – even if your sports skills aren’t great and it’s not your favorite pastime, you can show support by taking them to the park, passing a few balls back, booking a tennis court for them and a friend, and being on hand with a cold drink. Encourage extracurricular activities and be a willing escort. Competitive football matches can start from as young as under-seven in some areas. If sport is your thing, consider training to become a coach yourself.
Alternatively, take them to support local matches or events and make an effort to become involved yourself so that you can discuss relevant issues with them. Show interest in their favorite team or player, perhaps by pointing out news items, websites, blogs, magazines or books. Make it all about the sport they have chosen, even if your preference is for another sport, because if their interest is not genuine, they will quickly lose interest.
For younger children, football parties can be booked at local sports centers instead of a traditional birthday party. Football-themed invitations and party bags can be arranged, and a trained coach will involve the group in ball games. This also applies to other sports – some horse riding stables offer birthday parties and will accommodate riders of all abilities, so there is no problem if there are non-riders in the group. Parties can be held at a Go Karting track – the staff arranges everything for you, including the safety brief, overalls and helmets. Kids can take part in Go Karting from about age ten, though it will be dependent on height and weight. Events can include mini Grand Prix and racing schools especially for juniors.
Max Mosley was interested in racing cars from a very young age and raced in sports cars and Formula 2 cars in his youth. He then co-founded March Engineering, one of the world’s leading race car manufacturers and later became President of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the governing body of Formula One racing. He continues to be influential in the world of F1, contributing to discussions regarding safety, technology and other issues. In recent comments regarding the high costs of racing in F1, Mosley warns of more teams collapsing under the weight of financial pressure.
Even when not directly participating in the sport, the benefits of being involved can still be enjoyed – lifelong friendships are formed over the love of sport. Avenues for training or coaching may present themselves, or it can lead to other things such as education on nutrition, or sports therapy. Be inspiring and motivational, encourage them when they lose or don’t feel like training, and you will both reap the benefits long term.