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Is sport a significant factor in childhood development?

I think we can all agree that one of the most beneficial and rewarding aspects of a child’s life is play. It was Nelson Mandela who said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to the youth in a language they understand.”

 

It speaks to the youth in a language they understand. A statement that rings true. Tell a child to work and you will be met with a tremendous amount of defiance. Tell a child to go out and play, however, and you will not hear a single objection.

 

So what are the benefits of sport for young children? Well, let’s dive in.

When you think about sport, the most obvious advantage that comes to mind is the physical advantage. For young children especially, physical activity can create the foundation to a long-lasting healthy lifestyle. Sport can make children stronger, help them maintain a healthy body weight and help prevent the risk of developing unwanted conditions such as cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure when they get older.

 

We all know that these physical aspects are great, but what is really remarkable are the emotional and mental benefits that sport can have. Let’s be honest, one of the hardest challenges to overcome in life is low self-esteem. It is pretty hard to achieve your goals when all you can think about is failure, but sport allows children to grow from that failure and to have fun while doing so. Words of approval and congratulatory comments from coaches, teammates and parents – people who children look up to – can really boost their confidence. Another great confidence booster is progression. The more that children learn about their abilities and how to improve them, the more self-assured and confident they become.

 

Sport can have a crucial impact on the social development of children. What are some of the most common weaknesses that companies face on a day to day basis? Communication, teamwork and mutual respect are just a few to name. Because sport is extremely interactive, it teaches children how to effectively communicate with their teammates in order to achieve a common goal: winning the game. Sport also teaches children leadership skills as everyone on the team is given an important role to play. This can teach them a great sense of responsibility.

 

Taking part in sport is also a great way to keep children on track and out of trouble. Children, especially those that are vulnerable and live in underprivileged communities, are less likely to fall prey to radical groups or gangs when they participate in sports as they have a place to go where they feel important and included.  I could list more benefits that sport has on childhood development – because believe me, there are plenty – but let’s have a look at some of the groups implementing sport-based programmes targeting the youth. An organisation by the name of Right to Play’, whose mission is to “Protect, educate and empower children to rise above adversity using the power of play”, has significantly increased attendance rates in schools. In Rwanda, students who participated in ‘Right to Play’ programmes were far more willing and motivated to attend school, being able to maintain an attendance rate of 95%.

 

United Through Sport’, another great initiative that works with more than 56000 children, have an amazing improvement rate of 90% in academics, all by implementing their programmes. There are so many more initiatives, such as ‘Score’, ‘Ball to All’‘Youth Sport Trust’, and now Superkids” right here in Randburg, sponsored by Etchells & Young.

These types of organisations are exactly what the youth of today needs to help them develop and grow into hard-working and motivated adults.

Sport is an extremely powerful tool that can be used to motivate, inspire and uplift the youth. It is something that children can do to express themselves, escape the stress of their daily lives and it is something for them to enjoy. It helps children feel like they are a part of something meaningful. As said by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

By Megan Jackson

Etchells & Young Property Brokers