How Sports Shape Kids Into Awesomeness

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In their salad days, husband and wife Japa and Rona Gavino pursued their passion for sports quite fervently. Among other things, they got into paddling, rowing, and volleyball. To this day, Japa still competes competitively in dragon boat racing. The couple says, “We believe that being in a sport builds character. We understood the value of sports in our lives.” It’s not surprising then that they wanted their kids to engage in sports as well. Three of their four children, Raegan, Rogan, and Raine, are competitive swimmers with the youngest, Ranger, training regularly as well.

Japa explains, “There are things that can’t be taught in the classroom and that you can only learn best through sports: drive, determination, passion, sportsmanship, learning to get up when you fall, and focus, among others. We want those values ingrained in them.”

Yes, there are many benefits of getting kids into sports says Coach Meriel del Rosario of Ready Steady Go Kids Philippines. Australia’s leading preschool sport and exercise program, Ready Steady Go Kids aims to promote a healthy lifestyle among children and help develop in them a lifelong passion for physical activity and sport.

sportsX Coach Meriel teaching one of her young students; the Gavino kids

Here, some of the things that kids get out of sports:

1. Sports help kids in their overall development. Coach Meriel says, “Most of us tend to think that sports only promote physical and health development, but little did we know that it also helps children’s psychological, socio-emotional, character, and academic development. These aspects in a child’s development is very important for it promotes positive effects as they grow older.”

2. Sports help kids aspire for goals. Japa says, “The three big kids are very driven. They have focus and they know what they want, and what they need to do to achieve it. I believe that they developed this drive when they got involved in competitive swimming.”

3. Sports help kids learn about teamwork. Teenaged swimmer Raegan Gavino says, “Swimming may seem to be an individual sport but it’s actually a team sport. The saying ‘You’re only as strong as the weakest member of your team’ applies to this. During training sessions, we count on our teammates to push us beyond what we think we can do. A team effort is required to get everyone to improve and develop as athletes.”

4. Sports help kids identify their priorities. Japa says, “The kids are very disciplined. They know how to manage their time and prioritize things so that neither their studies nor their sport gets affected. This is also something that we stressed early on, i.e., they need to maintain a certain grade average for them to continue with their sport. If at any point in time their grades drop, then they would have to refocus their energy on academics first then get back into their sporting world. Fortunately for all of us, this has not happened.”

Coach Merial adds, “Sports not only develops children’s ability to multi-task but to manage their time wisely allowing them to balance all aspects of their everyday routine, including being continuously active in their chosen sport.”

5. Sports help kids reach their full potential. Coach Meriel explains, “Sports is beneficial in many ways wherein it helps children build their self-confidence and competence, develop their leadership skills, be able to interact and form relationships with their peers and more importantly, improve their ability to think while their bodies are engaged in physical activities. All these will enable children to reach their maximum potential and be better individuals.”

IMG-20140907-WA0004 The Gavino kids at the podium

If you are totally convinced about the merits of getting your children into sports, then you may take a cue from Japa and Rona. They let their kids try out different types of sports, from soccer to taekwondo, until they decided that swimming was what they wanted to do.

Japa warns against forcing kids into a specific sport though. He says, “Do not force your kids to be involved in a sport that you want. They should get into a sport that they want. They will be more motivated to excel when they choose the sport that they want to get involved in.”

Coach Meriel says kids as young as two and half can already try their hand at sports. However, it is still up to the parent as to when best to start. She says, “Each child is unique in his own way and each has his own ability and pace in learning. So for me, there really isn’t any specific age where kids start to engage in sports or have a specific sport in mind for that matter. There is no way to pinpoint at what age children start to be interested in learning a certain sport or discovering what sport they would like to pursue, although our program believes that children as young as 2.5 years can already grasp and retain certain skills and information well and be highly engaged in the sports that we offer.”

DSC01213 Japa and Rona Gavino with their kids

REFERENCE: Ready Steady Go Kids Philippines: Australia’s leading preschool sport and exercise program, Ready Steady Go Kids aims to promote a healthy lifestyle among children and help develop in them a lifelong passion for physical activity and sport.