Winning, losing, leadership, friendship. Dr Craig Nossel explores the (many) benefits of sports for our SA children.
Sunday Times, 28 May 2017
I recently attended the Discovery Sports Industry Awards dinner. I was surrounded by South African sporting legends - on my right was Elana Meyer, on my left Natalie du Toit, and just across from me sat Lucas Radebe. As the evening progressed I got to chat to Bruce Fordyce and Doug Ryder from Qhubeka cycling.
I was reflecting on the evening and why I am so inspired by these people. I am obviously impressed by their amazing sporting achievements on a global scale - their talents need no detailed description.
But what really stands out for me is the contribution these people have made and continue to make to society. This is what I define as a sporting legend. Using sport as a platform to do good.
In the sports world of today, while we are mesmerised by the skills shown on the pitch, we aren't always as impressed by the behavior of our heroes off the pitch. Sporting heroes need to be role models who encourage greater participation in sport. We want to encourage our kids to strive for their personal best regardless of what level that may be.
The latest Healthy Active Kids Report Card South Africa shows that less than 50% of our children are playing sport. The lack of infrastructure, combined with poor coaching and the competition with screen time is keeping them off the pitch.
Along with the many health benefits, life lessons and lifelong friendships are all part of playing sport.
As parents we also get it wrong. We still believe that the genetic combination of two mediocre athletes can combine to form a superstar like Messi or Serena Williams. I wish I could say that I was different, but fortunately my wife taught me early enough the importance of being an encouraging and supportive parent on the side of the field - however hard it may be.
This approach has allowed my sons to learn so much about winning, losing, leadership and being part of a team.
The lessons that we learn while running around between those four white lines can help to shape our society off the field. As Nelson Mandela said at the launch of the Laureus Foundation in 2000: "Sport has the power to change the world."
- Dr Craig Nossel, Head of Vitality Wellness
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