Often, parents will discuss their child’s lack of interest in Sport and question why, but struggle to understand the root cause. Children are now growing up in a digital age and are getting exposed to Tablets, Smart-Phones and Social Media which is unfortunately distracting them from Physical Education. Furthermore, the government recently announced some astounding statistics on the increase of child obesity in England and Wales which is largely contributed by children not attaining a correct diet.

There is not an easy answer to overcome these challenges of growing up in 21st Century, but as a parent, a large percentage of this dis-engagement can be down to parental responsibility in combination with the learning environment that the children find themselves in. As a parent I was always keen on my kids getting involved in Sporting Activities, both at School and After School. One area that struck me whilst taking my kids to a Weekend Football session was the unfortunate lack of engagement that the Coaches provided the children. This in turn leaves the child dejected and a loss of self-confidence. The drive to improve and teach children had dissipated and too much focus was on children with a higher ability. Unfortunately, the net result of this can increase the vulnerability of children to threats of the iPad, Smart Phones etc.

Going back to my initial point, regarding Environment. The key sauce to engagement is “Fun”. Creating an environment that is fun not only build a positive learning environment, but enables the children prosper and grow in confidence.

At Sport4Kids, Fun is what we as Coaches pride ourselves on! We provide the children with creative teaching methods, through a structured learning program whilst retaining the core and heart of what we do, Fun! Often, expectations from Parents are high, and we must remember that children will develop at different rates. We have many examples in World Football, where many Players did not peak until they were 12-13 years old. Through structured learning where children not only develop their Ball Skills, but also develop other facets such as listening, turn-taking, team work which, are all essential in character building. During the early years, particularly from 18 months to 5 Years old, children’s interest levels will be varied. As a Coach, we recognize this behavior and consistently urge parents to be persistent. Additionally, we as Parents can also support and encourage our children even in situations where a child goes into complete melt-down, which, by the way is very normal. Progression, particularly in the Toddler years will be gradual and could take several months before you begin to see active participation. However, through patience and perseverance you will begin to discover small signs of progression, and will no doubt surprise yourself!

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness children who are started attending Football sessions from 18 months, and through the Player Pathway Curriculum and Coaching methods that we have adopted, we are now seeing them compete in Local Leagues. The Teams are bringing the values of Sport4Kids onto the Playing fields which is about Team-work, encouragement, but above all self-confidence.

There are challenging points throughout the development of children and we must always seek to encourage and reward them for the small successes. What we as Coaches consider a small achievement, these in a child’s eyes can be a significant breakthrough in unlocking a child’s confidence. Every child has the potential to be great and through our teaching methods we’ve been honored to see how children are able to stretch their own abilities!