Start them young
You all know about my love of sport. I love to play them especially and if I can't play them, then watching others play them is a good consolation prize. I love the competitive nature, the comradeship, the battles, the controversies, the toil and the triumphs. Sport can offer an escape from the stresses and fears one may carrying around with them. For 80 minutes, 90 minutes, 3 hours your mind and concentration is transported to another realm. Interestingly, I think the best of the best across sports are those who can park their day to day worries or thoughts, and concentrate 100% on the task at hand. You can notice it sometimes when you see a footballer, boxer or golfer in an almost trance like state, oblivious to the crowds and every around them. They are in the zone. They are in a creative state of flow and when you sense that in someone, there is a strong chance that they will win or at least perform to the maximum of their own abilities.
I was lucky enough to be introduced to sport at a young age and it has played a huge part in my life so far. My Dad is a huge sports fan too, but more so anything Ireland or Galway are competing in. He will always shout for the underdog in any other match or event if Galway or Ireland are not involved. As we say in Ireland, The apple doesn't fall from the tree and as such my Dad's love of sport passed onto me. Now that I have three sons, that love of sports is once again passing onto my own sons. I brought my eldest to his first Ireland match when he was 5 and he joined me at the Emirates in February for his first Arsenal match. We couldn't have picked a better match, as we enjoyed a five goal thriller, with Arsenal prevailing 3-2 in the end. This is him shouting on the Gunners!
My other boys are into sports as well, they all play a bit of hurling, soccer, hurling, golf, rugby, american football and othersvin our back garden or they'll plant themselves in beside me on the couch to watch Galway, Ireland, Arsenal or whatever sport is on. My wife laughs at me when she walks in and I'm intently watching Curling or the like - I love curling actually. It's like marbles on ice isn't it! That's another one I've been teaching my kids recently actually. They love a good game of marbles. Anyone who has a look in our shed, will quickly see that, we like sports. Here is just some of the balls that are in there!!
The importance of sport
There are probably those out there who are not inate sports lovers themselves and may wonder what are the benefits of children and indeed adults becoming involved with local sports clubs. Some of the benefits that come to mind are:
1) Improved mental health and resilience.
2) Greater confidence.
3) Reduced risk of obesity.
4) Learn about conflict resolution.
5) Learn about the importance of team work.
6) Increased cardiovascular fitness.
7) Healthy growth of bones and muscles.
8) Improved coordination and balance.
10) It's fun
11) Build lasting friendships
Number 10 and 11 are arguably the most important of all. The importance of sport and fun in a child's early life is very well documented. Unfortunately, there can be a barrier for some, where the subs required are beyond the means of the family budget and that's a real shame. In these cases, I'd recommend people see what local structures or grants may be available locally to assist them. Again, not all countries will have this, so one must improvise by perhaps making up a game with stones and sticks for example or get into running, long jump and sports like that where equipment needs are limited. The importance of sports for children is highlighted in this excerpt from the Unicef website.
For many people around the world, sport and play are immediately and inextricably tied to the notion of childhood. Through play children explore, invent and create. They also develop social skills, learn to express their emotions, and gain confidence about their own capabilities. For many children, however, the chance to learn and grow through sport and play is unavailable, robbing them of some of the most important experiences of childhood.
Play in all its forms is the right of every child. Activities that employ and teach safe and inclusive play and sport are tools to improve children’s lives. Children throughout the world are naturally drawn to sport and play, and they can engage all children, even the poorest and most marginalized, to have fun and enjoy their childhood!
Early childhood marks a critical period in the life of a child, and can set the foundation for healthy development and life-long learning. Research shows that early childhood is the most critical period for brain development, and that experiences in the first years of life have more lasting impact on mental health and development than any others.
Throughout the life of a child, sport and play can be valuable tools to promote health and prevent disease, both through sport itself, and through the participatory act of watching others play, with the associated communication, education and social interaction that games can produce.
That's it from me for today. Thanks for stopping by and reading.