It is imperative that your child develops a healthy sporting appetite. We live in a gluttonous world; in the UK one in three children under the age of 15 are overweight, or obese. As a result, health leaders in the UK want an emergency task force to be set up in order to try and counter this problem.
On a global scale, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that there are more than 40 million children under the age of five classed as obese, and, more worryingly, 65% of the world population live in a country where obesity kills more people than being underweight.
Obesity is very much the epidemic of the 21st Century; it is a plague that destroys families. However, obesity is preventable and should be tried to be prevented at all costs. As children themselves aren’t capable of controlling their dietary intake it is up to us, the parents, to send them in the right direction.
Alongside a healthy diet – which is hugely important – sport does need to be encouraged, although it does not need to be forced. If you force something upon your child too much then it usually has a detrimental effect, which is something that you do not want to happen.
There are numerous sports clubs dotted around the country – there was an abundance of sports clubs just 15 years ago but nowadays they are dying. More and more children seek entertainment through technological means (although in small doses this can be a good thing) rather than physical activity. The result of which are stark: one being the rise of obesity and the other being the closing of clubs that have served as a pillar of the community for sometimes as long as 100 years.
We need to support our sports clubs. The generation before this one grew up with sports clubs, as did we, and so to our parents, but now the closest many of our youngsters get to a sporting activity is through the medium of a game console, and that is a real shame.
Picking the right sport for your child is by no means an easy decision, there are loads of sports out there to be played. Below is an evaluation of some of the sporting entertainment Britain has to offer.
There are numerous perks to tennis, one being its accessibility. Nearly every municipal park has a tennis court, most of which are extremely cheap to hire, and when there is a court there is a coach, which is something that Andy Murray has only just discovered. Tennis coaches are extremely accommodating and almost father-like at times and due to the individualistic nature of tennis they will give your child one-on-one tuition, something that often goes amiss in team sports. This means that your child should progress at a very quick rate and who knows, with the right coach there is nothing stopping your child from one day replicating Murray’s success and even one day becoming favourite for Wimbledon with a leading bookmaker such as Betfair. Granted, it’s a long shot, but without the proper motivation and sport involvement, your child will be deprived of the chance to try!
The difficulty of sport participation for a child is retention, but with tennis you can alleviate this problem by actively competing with your child. In most sports being older would give you a natural advantage, due to your superior physical presence, but tennis is completely different. Assuming that you and your child are tennis novices then it should make for a pretty enthralling game and one that your child will definitely think they can win, and it is this reaction that you are looking for.
Competition between kin is part of life and for a child there is nothing better than beating a parent, which more often than not they probably will, in fact, if we were to price up the odds with Betfair or another sportsbook, they would likely have you as a longshot to even win a set. As a result of tennis being very family orientated you can expect to see retention levels higher than a lot of other sports.
An hour of tennis would see the average person burn around 584 calories, which equates to more than an hour of cross-country skiing. Health wise tennis is fantastic, as it employs you to use both your legs and arms, toning both. Due to you having to stretch to return some balls it is also an aerobics class and you end up improving your flexibility, coordination and balance. The running that tennis entails is also good for your heart and other organs. All in all the health perks of tennis are second to none.
Getting your child involved in a sport usually has positive knock-on effects, such as healthy eating. Once someone see’s that their exercise is starting to pay off they are more likely to try and take better care of their bodies – in turn eating better food and meals.
On the flip side, tennis it is a solitary sport. Your child may be on a team but is very unlikely that they will actually be playing with anyone else.
The other problem with tennis is the distance. Your club may be local but competitors certainly will not be. Local areas simply do not have the demand with tennis for numerous clubs, unlike football, and therefore you have to go further a field for your child to play.
Finally, the costs – as tennis is by no means a cheap sport. In fact, in the grand schemes of things, tennis is a bourgeois sport. The outfit: tennis shoes, tennis socks, shorts, white polo and cap, is not cheap at all but the real outlay is the racquet. A high-end one-piece racquet (if you’re serious about playing you have to get yourself a one-piece) would set you back at least £120, and then you have the irksome cost of having to get the racquet restrung on an almost weekly basis. Cost is the biggest setback of encouraging your child to play tennis.
The most popular sport in Britain with over 18,000 new clubs being created in between the years of 2008-11, football clubs are located just about anywhere. Due to its popularity football clubs are one of the few that can sail through the rocky economic climate. That said, the adult game is stagnating and is shrinking year-upon-year.
Now, the first advantage of football we will discuss will not be the obvious health benefits, but, instead, the social element it gives your children. A football side is made up of 11 players on the pitch and a further 5 on the bench, so in most cases a football squad borders around the 16 player mark. This social element does your child a world of good – they grow up as a team, so naturally bonds and kinships start to develop; which make the daunting jump from Primary School to Secondary all the easier as your child already knows other children, rather than just those they have previously studied with. A football side instils in your child a sense of camaraderie, teamwork, banter, and selflessness. It really is amazing how much one can learn from a football team.
Back to the friends point, ask any player who played for a youth football team for over five years and they will all tell you the same thing: “It was brilliant and the people I met there became friends for life”.
From friendship to health, football is a great way to stay in shape, mainly because there is such an abundance of it. Club level, your child will train once a week: in the winter months on the Astroturf on a weeknight; and in the summer usually on a Saturday morning. Not only will they train, they will also have a match nearly every Sunday morning. But, your child footballing excursions will not stop there. By giving your child a natural footballing pedigree, it is only logical that they will try out for the school team, which like at club level, follows the same structure of a training session and a fixture every week. From you introducing your child to football, by the time they are 11-years-old they could be playing three hours of competitive football a week, not including training – that would see your child burn 1,915 calories. Football is the ideal sport to build up endurance, increases cardiovascular health and aerobic capabilities, increasing muscle and bone strength, and reducing body fat.
Due to the popularity of the sport, local areas are able to sustain numerous sides, meaning that you don’t have to excessively travel for your child to play a game. Most youth sides play teams within a 20-mile radius, unless it is a cup game. More often than not, it should take no longer than 30-minutes to take your child to a match.
Football isn’t without sin: one of the worst has to be the parents. There are some terrible parents that go and watch their 8-year-old child play football; the type that want to succeed through their child and do so by going berserk on the side-lines. Your child will be subject to some choice language by some of the imbecilic parents on the side-lines, and you cannot guarantee that said parent will not direct expletives your child’s way. If you are really unlucky, then your child may have to lay witness to two grown adults fighting at a child’s football game – there are some truly horrific fans.
Joining an athletics club is without question the most beneficial for health. When your child goes along every Wednesday night, per se, they will run around the track, throw a javelin, take on the high jump, attempt a triple jump and all other things associated with sports day. In relation to a total workout, they don’t come much more complete than that. Arms, legs, torso and back all get a solid workout.
On the other hand, it does have some of the negatives of tennis – mainly being the distance to competitions. Like tennis, there is enough demand to sustain one side in the local area but there is little more demand than that – so you do have to do a lot of travelling, usually to the bigger cities.
Athletics is two sides of a coin: on the one you have the extremely beneficial health aspects that talking part in athletics comes with; but then there is the distance and the costs that incur.
Far from being an old man’s game, golf is a game for all ages. As a family activity it is brilliant, going out for a round on a Sunday morning serves as a brilliant bonding exercise and something for all members involved to look forward to.
A golf course is usually over the 5km mark – which is a lot for a child, but it is also certainly a good stretch of the legs, but there are other traits that your child can learn from golf, patience being the main characteristic. It is a monotonous and crushing experience trying to hit a golf ball properly – it takes serious patience and practice. This leads to another trait developing: self-discipline. Your child will discipline themselves as they try and hit that perfect shot. What is so good about these traits is that they are transferable. They are not exclusive to golf – far from it in fact – and they can be used in education and even in the workplace in later life.
However, of all the sports mentioned golf is by far the most expensive. A decent set of clubs is going to set you back around £350 whilst a junior membership at a golf club can be anywhere between £150-£300, but, if you as an adult wanted a membership in order to accompany your child you will be looking at a total nearer the £600 mark.
These are just four of the available sports in Britain, there’s also rugby, cricket, equestrian activities, swimming and many more – all of which are fantastic. It ultimately doesn’t matter which sport your child participates in – what’s important is that they are in fact participating. Remember, child obesity is not the fault of the child, no, the blame lies solely at the door of the parents.