From the monthly archives: February 2019


When I first started my family, I daydreamed about the day that I could watch my kids playing sport on a Saturday morning. Coffee in hand, I would watch my perfectly behaved child learn and grow through playing a team sport. Sure they may lose some games, but they would be good sports and learn valuable life lessons.

Fast forward 15 years and all four of my kids play sport. Just not in the way, or even the sports that I would have expected.

The early years

Early on, I came to realise that a fun sports skills program is a great place to start. I found an awesome bunch of people in Perth who ran a program called Kids in Sport.  Every Sunday morning we would head down to a local school where the kids would spend around an hour learning how to catch, throw, balance, jump and all kids of fun games. At first I was a little skeptical.  I mean, who needs to learn how to run? Then the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  You don’t automatically know how to throw a ball, catch, hit a ball using a bat or even jog or run.  Well, maybe those of us that are athletically gifted do – but that is most definitely not me! Kids sports skill programs can start as young as 2-3 years of age, however make sure the program is play-based and fun!  My little crew all started at about 3 as their attention spans were quite up to it before then!

Primary school

A whole world of sports and activities starts to emerge!  Team sports start, along with gymnastics, dance, BMX and a whole bunch more.  Don’t be afraid to stretch outside of your comfort zone and choose a new sport.  Also think about extending your little one’s social circle by joining a club (rather than a school team). Take the time to go along and watch a game at the club you’re interested in, so that you can see what the culture is like. How do the other parents interact with each other, the kids and the coaches/umpires? 

School holidays are also a great time to get your kids more involved in sport. There are a whole host of sports programs available in cities and regional centres.  Swimming, multi-sports (where kids can ‘sample’ a wide range of different sports), rugby, cricket, even pony club camps are all fantastic options.

The most important part is to show kids that you can have a lot fun and how with practice you can learn new skills and get better over time. Of course, there are also all of the other benefits, improving resilience, learning how to get along with other people, making friends, dealing with conflict and disappointment… 

Now that three of my kids are in high school, I have a new appreciation for the years they spent happily playing sport at primary school.  Those early, often crazy games have given my kids the confidence and the skills to now play sport at high school. Well worth the effort!

High school

High school is a completely different arena for sport.  Peer pressure is rampant, kids are super busy and family life tends to be hectic. It can be tempting to let sport fall by the wayside.

This is such a critical time to continue to encourage your kids to play sport. It’s really common for kids, particularly girls to drop out of sport when they reach high school.  A recent survey (AIS) found that 40% of 13-17 have not participated in sport in the previous year.  Just as concerning is the 57% of the students that were disengaged were female.  

Benefits from playing sport as a teenager are huge. Playing a sport helps kids establish a connection to place (being part of a community), are better at self-regulation (emotional and physical) and also help boost their confidence and motivation.  My crew all had a grumble about playing sport over the years.  Each time we’ve worked together to find a sport or activity that suits.  

My kids have played water polo, swimming (social squad/club), touch football, rugby, soccer (football for our international crew), basketball, netball, volleyball and cricket.  Seems like a lot doesn’t it? The reality is most of those sports are through a combination of school and club, and usually involve a uniform and a pair of runners.  

Sports equipment can be really expensive. Did you know most clubs and schools provide teams with a ‘kit’?  This helps to minimise the expense for parents and also helps if they have a change of heart about playing that sport (you aren’t stuck with a bunch of sports gear you no longer need).  You can also apply for sports vouchers in most states (of Australia) to help out with the costs –  simply google ‘sports vouchers’ along with your state and you’ll be able to see all of the relevant information. 

Hopefully this has helped.  Choosing a sport can seem overwhelming!  Just remember to focus on the fun and the friendships and you and your kids will have a ball (see what I did there!),

Enjoy xx

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