Why your kids should be playing sport

Why your kids should be playing sport

19 October 2012 | 8:30 am

Unless a child cannot physically do any activity for health reasons, there’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be introduced to sport at a young age. In my opinion, the benefits of starting young far outweigh any negatives – if there are indeed any at all.

Being one of four children, my parents had all of us learning to swim as babies – purely for safety reasons initially, before it progressed into local competitions against other schools and swimming clubs as we got older.

Besides swimming, we were also encouraged to participate in a range of team sports including netball, softball, little athletics and gymnastics. The memories I have from being involved in all of those are ones I’ll cherish forever for a variety of reasons.

I didn’t need to grow up in the era of iPhones, iPads and iPods to understand that sitting around after school every day and watching TV wasn’t a healthy and worthwhile way to spend my childhood (and would lead to a very unhealthy teenager and adult if I didn’t start moving). Now as a mum of two growing boys, I can certainly see how important it is to be a good role model, which is why I followed in the tradition of my parents and encouraged them to play any sport that interested them.

Without knowing it, from the age of five I was learning life skills and values that I still draw on today. I can still remember the top 10 rules that my first swimming coach, Roy Holland, had written on a chalkboard at the end of the pool for us all to see:

  1. Respect your coaches.
  2. Respect your teammates and competitors.
  3. Don’t be tardy and be organised.
  4. Be gracious when winning and in defeat.
  5. Believe that anything is possible.
  6. Positive attitude leads to a positive outcome.
  7. Work hard.
  8. Eat well.
  9. Set realistic goals and have a plan to reach them.
  10. Have fun.

If you look at these rules, most of them – if not all – still apply in adulthood. I know without a doubt that the values and morals I learnt as a youngster have held me in good stead over the years. Without question, sport isn’t for everyone. But there’s no denying that fresh air, exercise and teamwork from a young age can only have positive outcomes.

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