The Importance of a Positive First Experience in Sport
I used to work for a company called Sport4Kids in Hong Kong (now ProActiv Sports). This is a blog post I wrote back in 2016, around what we try to do as Sport Coaches for young kids in Hong Kong.
The aim we have here at Sport 4 Kids is not to produce Olympic medalists or International Rugby players. Sure, if that happens we would be super proud and happy. But our primary objective is to give children an outlet where they can have fun and develop fundamental movement skills. Ultimately we want children to enjoy playing sport so much that they maintain their physical activity levels for the rest of their lives.
Regular physical activity is an essential component to health and wellbeing as an adult, and it is one area that we have complete control over. This component starts at a young age, where by learning the fundamentals of movement and developing a positive attitude to physical activity and sport, individuals can gain the skills, experiences and attitudes to take part in physical activity and sport throughout their lives.
One of my Gaelic Football groups in Hong Kong. Fun times.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), every child should be active at a moderate to vigorous intensity for at least 60 minutes PER DAY. Given the positive cognitive effects that physical activity can have (as discussed in a previous article by Coach Jacob); it is imperative that each child is afforded the opportunity to be physically active for both physical performance (in sport) and also cognitive performance (in school).
We aim to develop physical literacy in every child. Physical and Health Education Canada has defined physical literacy as:
“Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.”
Physical literacy is the foundation block for lifelong involvement in physical activity and sport. There are three stages in the quest for physical literacy:
· Active Start: this phase focuses on providing children with opportunities to participate in physical activity. Active start promotes movement and communication, both with other children and coaches.
· FUNdamental phase: the purpose of this phase is to learn fundamental movement skills, develop social and mental attributes associated with physical activity and to lay foundations for the development of physical literacy. As the name of this phase suggests, there is huge emphasis on children having fun. We want to see children laughing and smiling while they are developing. If you follow our facebook page, you will be aware that there is nothing brighter than a child’s smile.
· Learning to Play and Practice phase: this is the final part to developing physical literacy and the focus is to learn overall sports skills and specialised movement skills. The FUNdamental emphasis remains throughout and to develop true physical literacy, this is done through a multi-sport approach. Children continue to develop the social and mental attributes associated with physical activity and sport.
From the development of physical literacy, children have the necessary skills and attributes to go on to further develop physically and compete at a high level of sport, but also to remain physically active for the rest of their lives and have a good quality of life. For example, obesity is one of the biggest issues of the current generation worldwide. There are numerous other health complications that can arise as a result of obesity; it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss these complications. Prevention is better than cure and by developing physical literacy in children, we are equipping them with the skills to live a healthy life throughout their childhood and beyond into adulthood.
The environment and culture here in Hong Kong does not always promote best practice in health and wellbeing terms. We are striving to provide children with a safe and fun environment to develop not only physical literacy but also life skills, to give them the best opportunity to live a life they love.