Top 10 sports for kids to play Number 1 - Football
One of Australia’s most popular sports played by boys, football is been considered one of the best sports for kids to play. It requires little equipment to get started, something that changes as kids become teens and due to its community appeal has an excellent network of adults who are passionate about it. Local clubs help kids make local friends with a common interest. Often coached by parents who live in the local community kids make friends with whole families. Socialisation based on different family values, helps them understand difference and equality. Manners and behaviours used at the club sausage sizzle after a game may be different from those used at home. Children very quickly understand that being polite, kind and considerate is always important. They have to adapt their behaviours at a young age to ensure they are listened to and liked by their peers and the adults around them.
Social and Mental Health
On the other hand, it is also an excellent environment to establish clear personal safety boundaries. Kids are taught, coached and guided to consider the impact of how they treat others on and off the field. They quickly come to a better understanding of their own biology and bodies. Considerate coaches, caring club parents and welfare officials provide an additional layer of support and assistance. More important than the physical boundaries, the social and psychological boundaries of personal space are challenged, then set by the kids and their coaches, parents and club support staff. Lessons on trust, appropriate actions and how to support those who struggle with their body image, feelings and sometimes home or school-based personal safety, can be addressed with peers or coaches who provide a non-threatening external point of reference. Football codes can be taught to kids as early as four years. Modified rules provide a safe platform to learn rules and skills in a fun setting. Healthy role models are able to help kids through tough times. If kids experience the rough and tumble on the football field, within the strict codes of the game, they develop resilience. A life skill that enables strong mental wellbeing for life.
The Health Benefits For Your Child
Football facilitates teamwork, fairness, discipline and has a host of physical benefits. It promotes muscle strength, flexibility, coordination, weight control and cardiovascular endurance. Aerobic activity has been shown to benefit children’s mood, stimulate the growth of new brain cells and improve sleep. Weight-bearing exercise is essential for the development of strong bones, joints, tendons and ligaments. Juggling the ball improves foot dexterity, gaining balance and improves cardiovascular sustainability. Handling the ball in rugby, soccer and AFL improve all-round coordination. Football codes are excellent in developing nimbleness, the ability to pivot, turn or reverse directions quickly. A very handy skill on the sports field, and one that teaches our brains that there is more than one way forward or towards our goals in life.
When enrolling your child with a local club, it is excellent to remember that not all children enjoy team sports, rough games or on-field aggression. At the point of enrolment, and on a very regular basis ensure your child is able to ‘opt out’ if they find they are not enjoying football. Of course, it is true kids have to persevere to progress and get better or press through hard times. It is your role as a parent to be on the lookout for bullying or character mismatches. This may be with a coach or a teammate. Open dialogue that gives kids the permission to ‘tell all’ without any judgement from parents is vital to ensure a life-long positive experience.
For some children, it is an age issue, others a peer group, coach or team spirit. If you can find out the concern of your child; your feedback to the club or team may help them address the issue, or agree that it is an individual, not a club culture matter.
Ryan Williamson is a gymnastics and movement expert. His personal experience of slipping through education's cracks gives him an unmatched passion to ensure his 3 young children learn in using methods that suit them. He has developed gymnastics based programs to improve academic test scores, numeracy, literacy and creative thinking. Read Ryan's story - above *My Story*