Sport isn't just good for children's bodies; it's good for their minds and spirits too. Every child, regardless of ability, has the opportunity to learn lifelong skills through sport, and they deserve the opportunity to do so.
Sporting activities can be one of the best schools of life for our children. By participating in sport, children are exposed to various mental, social, emotional, physical and educational benefits.
When children play sport, it provides significant advantages and offers a pivotal path to inspire and give hope. Through the practice of sport, children can envisage a better life for themselves, their schools, families and their communities.
Building resilience and teaching true grit
Giving children the opportunity to pursue at least one difficult thing allows them the chance to develop grit, the much-hyped ingredient in personal success. It gives children a chance to show up consistently and teaches them that failure brings the opportunity to learn. Angela Duckworth, the world’s leading expert on grit, defines it as the “passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement, with no particular concern for rewards or recognition along the way. It combines resilience, ambition,and self-control in the pursuit of goals…”. She states that grit is a better indicator of future success and happiness than either IQ or talent. Like with grit, sport helps harness critical habits and life skills that last long into adulthood.
…grit is a better indicator of future success and happiness than either IQ or talent…
Creating the village that raises the child
Sport can provide a village of caregivers, mentors and peers that surround and support children who might otherwise lack this kind of network. Kids benefit greatly from the social side of sport and from the involvement and presence of other children and adults around them. This can help foster self-esteem, leading to the confidence that they need to feel-good and thrive. Words of praise or encouragement from a coach or other players helps give children a moral boost. While simple gestures such as a high-five, a pat on the back, or a handshake, helps build connection and confidence.
Sport builds stronger, healthier, happier and safer communities too
We can uplift children and communities through sport. Communities that participate in sport and recreation develop strong social bonds, are safer places and the people who live in them are generally healthier and happier.
Access to safe and educational sport opportunities can prepare children and entire nations for success through teaching skills like conflict resolution and sportsmanship. Sport also has the powerful potential to inspire and unite children from diverse backgrounds while creating a sense of personal purpose and hope in their community. It’s so much more than just a game, sport can be a tool for transformation and ultimately gives communities something to feel proud of and rally around.
In promoting mutual respect and tolerance, sport teaches important social and interpersonal skills. It has proven to be an effective tool in keeping kids from falling into a cycle of anti-social behaviour and depression while also acting as powerful prevention for keeping children out of harm’s way.
Poor health can worsen poverty in a number of ways; the preventative impact of exercise and physical activity has an important role to play. Being physically fit helps prevent many diseases thus improving community health problems and increasing life expectancy.
The benefits and the barriers
All children need a positive outlet to express their energies and to decompress in a constructive way. Often though, there are potential social, economic and cultural barriers that can inadvertently deter vulnerable children from participating in sport. Lack of access, social stigmas, safety and pay-to-play sport being just a few of them.
Few supervised, safe, free and fun sporting opportunities exist both inside and outside of lower-income schools. That is where KILT’s Afterschool Sports Project looks to fill the gap, not only do we take sport to the schools, but we offer safe, professional, and supported spaces for children to explore their interests and talents while having fun.
Aside from the feel-good and calming chemicals released during a game, sport also allows children the chance to dream, to pursue their goals and contribute to their schools, families, communities and sometimes even their countries and the world around them.
Imagine if the positive change experienced by one child through sport could be magnified to an entire community. Sport matters because it changes lives!