For my family, it is not just participating in the sport itself that has been beneficial. Is has been the extra, and I think often underestimated, or overlooked benefits that have made sport participation really worth while.
Little athletics has really helped to bring our family together. Flash wakes Muscles first thing in the morning (yes, way too early for a Saturday) and they proudly get dressed in their uniform and put their nighties over the top so they can ‘surprise’ us. The Girls and Buster, love cheering each other on. Even Grumpydaddy gets into the action. He (somewhat surprisingly), encourages all the kids, not just ours, to do their best. He keeps the girls times and stats in his head and is responsible for the ‘ceremony’ of gluing in their time tickets when we get home. It’s something we all talk about at the dinner table all week!
Another benefit of sport is it’s mood enhancing qualities. I pick Flash up from school and she can be as stroppy as a cut snake! She’ll only glare at me, hiss and grunt. She will completely ignore any requests for conversation about her day. So I take her to swimming squad. When I pick her up my daughter is back!! She sits in the car passenger seat chatting away about what she did at school and swimming. She’ll even ask me questions such as “what’s on the outside of the universe”. Even just going for a walk is a great way to get my girls to open up. After about five minutes they’ll be talking my ears off!! My son, Buster has difficulty with his speech and communication. He participates in swimming and gymnastics and when he is engaged in these activities, his lack of speech doesn’t not hold him back, he is just like all the other kids!
Another great aspect of their sport is the friends that they have made. Muscles and her gymnastics squad are as tight as thieves! I am amazed with the maturity in which they treat one anther…except for the constant giggling about Justin Bieber!!...ahhhhh….. Nooooo.
I have also created very strong friendships with the parents of the children in the girls sporting groups. The parents all seem like minded in wanting the best outcomes for their children and have shown support and encouragement of all the children. So far the sporting parents seem accepting of the girls achievements and not jealous or belittling.
When the girls have a bad day at school they know that they have a separate groups of friends waiting. I’m hoping that that this extra support network will last thought to the teenage years when I know they will really benefit from the extra support. I have also noticed that their sporting groups have given the girls a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves. When somebody scores a goal in Flash’s soccer game the whole team celebrates!! They realize that each person has an important contribution to make to the team.
I am hoping that this way of thinking carries on to the teenage years. I am hoping that having an competition to train for, or a team that is relying on them, will act as a strong incentive for them to make better choices when it comes to the inevitable crossroads for drinking and drugs. I am hoping that their sport will help give them the self confidence and self respect to make good choices. Not to mention all the time that training takes up will not leave enough time for much else!!
For my children I am hoping sport will be a life-long activity. It by no means has to be their career. But a life-long participation in sport will be terrific for their health, weight management and even, perhaps, an activity to enjoy with their own children.