Sports encourages participation and it has a potential of bringing many people together, if used informatively, it enhances self-esteem and self-confidence and it promotes responsible behaviour. With the increased concern about adolescent problem behaviours, we can use sports to nurture positive youth development.
During sports training, teach good health habits and good health risk management skills, it is important for positive physical development, teach knowledge of essential life skills, vocational skills, decision making skills, and critical reasoning skills, this will greatly contribute to positive intellectual development. Mental health, coping skills, conflict resolution skills, moral character and confidence contribute to psychological and emotional development, while social development will be attained through being connected to parents, peers, other adults and having mentors.
Sports activities integrated with positive development programs can be a practical and cost effective tool. The challenge is, sports programs for children and youth in today’s society are becoming increasingly expensive limiting opportunities for those who cannot afford. Secondly, these sports organisations focus on developing a skill but not whole person. If we design better programs we can use sports to develop better people rather than simply skilled people.
Youth who have gone through development programs are less likely to engage in high risky behaviours like alcohol, tobacco and drug use, they are less likely to be depressed or suicidal, and less likely to demonstrate anti-social behaviour like violence.
We would like to request sports coaches to implement these programs on day to day basis, and parents need to get involved and support their children throughout their involvement in the integrated sports programs. Let us be intentional, every sports program should bring in the aspect of fostering positive development, so ensure development of a wholesome person.
This is a call to those who want to see positive development in the youth today, to choose sports as a first step to mobilise, and then engage.
By Jacqueline N