Parents in Sport

Parents in Sports Week

Athletics Northern Ireland joins the NSPCC to promote parents’ role in Athletics 

Parents and carers are key to a child’s lifelong involvement in Athletics 

image-parentsinsportsweek16.jpgThe NSPCC and Athletics Northern Ireland have joined forces with more than 100 sports organisations in the UK and Ireland to promote Parents in Sport Week next month. From 3 to 9 October, we want clubs/members to rally behind our efforts to underscore the positive, supporting role that parents play.

The NSPCC and Athletics Northern Ireland want to raise awareness among coaches and officials of the crucial role parents have in helping children enjoy sport.

Dr Camilla Knight of Swansea University, who studies parental involvement in sport, said: “Without the support of their parents and carers, the opportunities for children to engage in sport and reach their full potential will be limited.”

However many sport know of ‘over-involved’ or ‘pushy’ parents. “Unfortunately, this is leading to some coaches and organisations limiting their involvement with and support of parents,” Dr Knight adds, “which subsequently affects children’s experiences.”

Through Parents in Sport Week, the NSPCC and Athletics Northern Ireland are helping to change the conversation and remind everyone of the important and extremely valuable contribution parents make to youth sport.

The NSPCC has produced resources for clubs to use with parents and their own coaches. These are available at thecpsu.org.uk/parents.

“From Olympic athletes to grassroots players there is consistent agreement that parents are most important in initiating involvement in sport and supporting long-term positive engagement,” said Anne Tiivas, Director of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU).

However, certain types of involvement and behaviours from parents and carers can be challenging, and take away from a child’s experience and enjoyment. As they commit a lot of time, money and emotional support to their children’s participation in sport, sometimes in an emotionally charged environment they may get carried away, for example on the side-lines of a race or event. Negative parental behaviour such as arguing with officials and referees or putting too much pressure on the child takes away from their experience of sport. This can also stunt a child’s desire to continue in sport and damage their perception of sport as fun.

We at Athletics Northern Ireland are fully behind this initiative to raise awareness of the positive role a parent has in helping a child reach their full potential.

Through Parents in Sport Week, the NSPCC, Athletics Northern Ireland and other sports organisations hope to highlight the essential role parents have in encouraging a child’s enjoyment and success in playing sport.

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Parents in Sport Week aims to:

  • encourage sports organisations to promote the positive role parents play in helping children reach their full potential
  • empower parents by helping them to support their child’s participation in sport
  • assist coaches and officials to understand the crucial role parents have in a child’s involvement in sport

 

Athletics Northern Ireland link with locals athletes to see how they have been supported by their parents.

Christine McMahon

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My parents were very supportive during my younger years, driving me to training sessions & races if needed, and supporting me financially so I didn't have to have a job. They never put pressure or time limits on me, allowing me to develop & pursue athletics at a rate I was comfortable with. Athletics is a very demanding sport with regards to physical effort, mental resilience & sacrifice, so don't push your child into it, especially at a young age. Let them do a variety of sport until they reach a decision in their own time that they are happy with. 

Kerry O'Flaherty

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They provided support and advice and took an interest in my goals and achievements. My parents took me to a local club and introduced me to the coaches that had the experience in running.

Ben Reynolds

Ben Reynolds

Let the child enjoy lots of different sports at first, with absolute emphasis on enjoyment and enthusiasm. Eventually, the athlete’s real calling is likely to be clear and apparent.

Lydia Mills

Lydia Mills

My parents gave me lots of encouragement and emphasise the importance of trying new events or sports. They took me along to Ballymena and Antrim athletics club so I could train with qualified coaches and compete in different events at a young age to gain some experience.

Kevin Seaward

Kevin Seaward

My parents were incredibly supportive and not one bit ‘pushy’. Remember that young people develop mentally and physically at different times. Be encouraging, be supportive and be loving. My parents were new to athletics when I started competing. They were learning it with me, which was great. They had no real expectations or understanding and that went they were always encouraging. They did always teach me to be humble and celebrate the wins as well as accept the losses

Aileen Reid

Aileen Reid

Be supportive. My parents Let me decide what I want to do/ take ownership. It is important that parents teach and understand to support other children who your kids are racing against. Make sporting experience enjoyable. My dad would take me everywhere but he gave me the responsibility of getting up at 5am for swimming. If I woke him he would get in the car and take me- if not no swimming!

Jason Harvey

Jason Harvey

Well it helped my parents were basically my coaches. So mum taught me HJ, LJ, Shot how to run etc. Then Dad was there for my Multi events as a coach and mentor. Supporting me through it giving me a kick up the backside when I messed up. But they always told me to enjoy it, I won a lot so they didn’t need to have a word that way but being competitive is key early on as well. It’s nice enjoying the sport and main part but if you aren’t competitive it’s harder to enjoy. (Just how my mind works). Don’t be too pushy, if the child isn’t enjoying the sport they won’t continue it through University and beyond. It needs to be self-driven, as athletics can be a tough sport. You can’t teach kids that. They need to learn from their own experiences, but be there for them. Be that shoulder to cry on when they lose, be that happy parents when they win. But always be there and be strong no matter what.

Mark McKinstry

Mark McKinstry

I think sometimes parents try to live their own sporting dreams out through their children but you don't want to end up putting too much pressure on kids especially at a young age.  The enjoyment factor needs to be there and I think it’s important for parents to encourage their kids and build their confidence but just as importantly make sure that they are happy and enjoying their chosen sport.   Like I say, I wasn't really that sporty as a young person in terms of competing but my parents always encouraged me with any sport I tried at school. They weren't rich and spoiled me or anything but they always made sure I didn't go without in terms of any equipment I needed

Katie Kirk

Katie Kirk

It’s difficult because my parent is my coach. My dad has always been supportive but has never made me do it. If I didn’t feel like doing a session I didn’t. Athletics for young people should be fun and parents should be mindful of this. It is important for parents to be involved but leave the coaching to the coach. Dad has taught me everything I suppose. They gave me the time to learn things myself and supported me through balancing school and training.

Peter Glass

Peter Glass

My parents dropped me to all the different training I did without fail, probably because they got a few hours peace and quiet! They kept me grounded and talked to me about it. They made sure I understood success doesn't come overnight. Neither of my parents knew the order of events of a decathlon when I started. But now they are pros and have helped me more as an adult than a young person.

Paul Pollock

Paul Pollock

For someone to achieve their potential, at whatever age, then they need to enjoy their training. As a parent, everything should be geared towards supporting the athlete and ensuring that they are enjoying the training. Running is a fantastic sport, which encourages the development of several positive qualities. If the runner is in a team of like-minded individuals, all encouraging each other to better themselves, then they will run to their true potential. Growing up, my parents were very supportive and believed that I should try a wide variety of sports. When I began training regularly with Abbey AC, I was reliant on my parents to drive me to training and races. They spent several hours several evenings a week sitting in the car in the Mary Peters track carpark waiting for me to finish. Suffice to say that without their support then, and still now, I would not have kept my training going.

 

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