Children need all sorts of encouragement from parents and guardians – encouragement to do well at school being to the fore – but sport as an activity should also be encouraged in children.
It goes without saying that encouraging children to play sport gives them enormous health and fitness benefits, but taking part in a sport teaches children all sorts of skills that are translatable to other areas in life. Through playing sport, children learn the value of teamwork. They learn the importance of motivation and improvement. They learn the importance of listening to others, but also the importance of asking questions. These are the types of skills children will need to forge positive personal and professional relationships throughout their lives. Playing sport benefits a child’s studies because the same values of hard work and dedication found on the sporting field apply to the classroom as well.
There are numerous examples of successful sports people who have used the skills learnt in their sport to their own benefit and for the benefit of others. Football superstar David Beckham has used his high profile to tremendous effect as a spokesperson and campaigner for UNICEF. His passion for the game of football has been translated into a project to bring Major League Soccer, the US league, to Miami with an expansion team. Another example of a high-profile sportsperson using their experience to good effect post-retirement is Sir Chris Hoy, the Olympic track cycling champion, who became an ambassador to the Royal Air Force Air Cadets. He has also launched his own range of bikes, HOY Bikes.
Of course, not everyone can reach the peak of their chosen sports, but children may find that an interest in a particular pastime leads them onto an interesting career in that sport, whether as a coach to future generations of children, in the administration side of the sport or perhaps even as a physical therapist specialising in sports injuries. For example, Richard Scudamore, head of the Premier League and a successful corporate executive in his own right, is a qualified Level 5 football referee.
A shining example of the type of person to have made the successful transition between pursuing their sport at an amateur and even professional level and a subsequent career inside or outside that sport is Max Mosley. A one-time amateur racing driver, he has found success in the management and administration side of motor sport, first as a racing team owner and eventually as president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body for Formula 1 and other motor sports. If there is one characteristic a racing car driver requires, it is resilience, and Mosley was certainly found to be resilient in his pursuit of improvements in Formula 1 safety standards following a series of crashes and a number of driver injuries and even fatalities. Max Mosley comments on Jules Bianchi’s crash in a recent Sky Sports article, and he is still a leading voice in the world of Formula 1.
Encouraging children to play sport equips them with the skills they need to get on in life.