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Why playing sports is so important for your child

Keen to get your kids outside and away from those addictive screens? Sport is one sure-fire way to get them moving and having fun at the same time. We asked ALPESH PUNA, director of sport at Shaws Little League, why you’d be mad not to sign your kids up for a sport today.

What are some of the benefits of playing sport?

There are the obvious physical benefits: acquiring skills and co-ordination through running, moving, catching, throwing, kicking and striking, as well as muscle development and endurance. And then there are the social benefits: being part of a team or group allows children the opportunity to widen their social circle and learn about communication, teamwork, leadership and problem-solving.

Shaws Little League

Sport also exercises the brain – research shows that certain sports and physical activities have a positive impact on the development of children’s brains. Most importantly, it helps children to develop self-esteem – that sense of achievement from accomplishing something that at first seemed unattainable.

Tell us more about the personality benefits.

Through perseverance, the willingness to try, striving for continual improvement, dealing with winning and losing, and respecting rules, teammates and the referee’s decision, sport can develop a child’s character. Children should not play sport only out of a desire to excel and win; it’s more and more becoming an essential component of developing happiness, and can also contribute to academic progress.

What does Shaws’ multisport programme entail?

It covers volleyball, tennis, basketball, baseball, rugby, hockey, cricket, soccer, golf and athletics. These are all geared toward developing overall physical coordination, and we’ve found that children’s active participation rate is maximised when we mix up the sports – they develop faster.

There are inter-relationships between the movements in different sports, so enhancing a skill in one sport can help a child develop in another sport they might want to specialise in. For example, the passing technique in rugby helps to develop the muscle groups that are involved in hitting a forehand and backhand in tennis. In addition to being lots of fun, Shaws’ multi sport programme is a great way to learn the key skills of each sport.

Shaws Little League

Children can enrol in one particular sport at Shaws too, right?

Yes, our sport-specific programmes focus on tennis, soccer and cricket, and they all operate on a skills development framework; we’re one of the first in Asia to use these frameworks to provide tangible feedback to children and their parents. Our pool of early childhood educators, sports coaches, scientists and international athletes are on hand to provide ongoing feedback and improvement to our programmes. This means that every child will have an opportunity to continuously improve and enjoy playing sport.

Alpesh’s 5 tips for parents

1. Let the kids play everything and anything; too often, children are coerced into playing the sport their mum or dad likes.

2. Set realistic expectations; champions do not become champions overnight.

3. It’s OK to not win. Children will never remember the medals; they’re more interested in the enjoyment, the involvement and having a go.

4. Cheer! Not only for your own children or team but for the opposition, too. Children learn from the good behaviour of others.

5. Make sure that the entire experience of playing and participating (including the car trip) is fun and positive.

Get involved! Check out Shaws Little League weekly sporting programmes, holiday camps and birthday parties at shawslittleleague.com.

Want more? See our kids section!

This article first appeared in the July 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!