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Sports Education

Sports is really a gamechanger

It is very heartening to see an ever-increasing number of people practicing sport and physical exercise for many different reasons in our islands.

Most children play sports because they term it as fun whilst adults might resort to physical exercise to maybe reduce stress or to take a break from their normal hefty, work schedule.

In reality, however, there are numerous reasons why each one of us should do sport or some regular physical exercise since the possible generated benefits, from the very obvious to others less thought of, are wide-ranging.

Sport is also an easy way for us to encounter new people who have a similar interest and thereby develop friendships that could even remain intact after quitting the particular sport, thus ending up being healthy lifelong relationships in nature.

One’s social circle can be significantly expanded when one joins a team, a sports club, or a local sports community. Friendships, that otherwise most probably would not be formed, are made even with other persons even from different backgrounds and cultures.

All this is apart the fact that engaging in sport and physical activity can also possibly move one away from others dangerous ‘pastimes’ such as crime and the use of illicit substances.

There is no doubt that sport, be it a team sport or individual, can develop a range of personal skills which can even start to develop at a young age and then are carried over to adulthood and even work careers.

In a team setting, one normally succeeds via good communication between the team members. Working towards a common goal with fellow players and coaches may teach one how to build teamwork.

In essence, one learns to work well in a team not only in wins but also after losing as this is a reflection of life, thus the saying ‘sport is a way of life’. Life has its ups and downs and one has to learn how to navigate successfully both through the calm and stormy waters.

Working in a team also may teach one to communicate further to solve problems and this can be then helpful when one encounters setbacks or problems at work or at home. Defeats or lack of success should lead one to adapt and learn (learning never stops) so that any prior mistake becomes a learning opportunity to lead to future success.

In the case of individual sport, where one trains and competes as an individual, one can learn to maintain high motivation without the focus of a group. However, even here individual sportspeople can still then end up to take part in some team events, e.g. relays in athletics, doubles in tennis, thereby reaping the correlated benefits.

Another benefit and quality I can strongly vouch on, is that anyone who is active and plays true sport tends to be able to be more self-disciplined and be able to demonstrate higher levels of concentration.

This self-discipline is very often carried over outside the sports circles to homes, workplaces, schools and other educational institutions as trained sports persons are normally quite motivated and may normally always put in the required work to reach any target.

From an academic perspective, many people unfortunately think that since sports may take up a lot of time and energy, this would distract student-athletes from the academic side.

However, and I feel strongly about this as, we continually see real-life examples around us whereby student-athletes normally do better academically.

Sport may easily teach one how to be more disciplined and utilise good time management (the key, just like all other aspects of our life, is to find and maintain the right balance) as well as instilling certain skills such as repetition, memorising, determination, goal-setting and other similar personality-relates or psychological traits which are then directly relevant and can be transferred to the classroom or lecture room.

Achieving any targets and seeing your hard work pay off in sports normally develops one’s self-confidence and should also encourage one to set further goals.

The latter should contain a mix of short and long-term targets as small, progressive accomplishments can further boost self-confidence towards long-term aims.

Those who effectively have experienced this can easily state that this is truly a rewarding and exciting learning process which can also then reflect and extend to our normal daily life.

It has also been proven, time and time again, that sport and physical activity is very beneficial for our wellbeing and mental health.

For many dedicated sportspeople, sports may be either a super way to start the day on the right track or else a great vent at the end of a hard day at work.

Real sportspeople can vouch that their activity allows them to boost their moods (especially at the end of a training session or game) and can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.

Chemicals in the brain may be triggered and can make one feel more relaxed and be able to have better rest periods.

From a somewhat medical point of view, it is a fact that our body and heart need exercise. Pondering from this perspective, sport and physical activity should not be a hobby or a personal choice. As an important muscle in the body, our heart needs to continually be able to pump blood all over our body at every moment, day and night.

Taking part in regular and frequent sports helps one to fortify and improve the heart’s performance and reduce the possible risk of any heart disease, malfunction or stroke.

A healthy heart can then efficiently propel blood around the body and improve the overall health of the person.

Physical exercise

At the same time, our bodies contain also many other muscles and organs. The latter, such as the lungs, surely appreciate when one decides to put away time to move and do some physical exercise each single day. Add to this a healthy nutrition lifestyle and diet and more benefits will open up.

On concluding, I would like to quote a very interesting study issued earlier this Spring which clearly highlights one of the major impacts of sport and the necessity that one invests further, even at national executive level, towards more general participation in regular and life-long sport and physical activity.

Last year, Sport Wales commissioned Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), in partnership with Loughborough University, to carry out a Social Return on Investment (SROI) study of sport in Wales. The aim was to measure the value of sports participation and volunteering as well as the net costs, or inputs, of providing opportunities for engagement, therefore calculating the social return on investment. 

The end result, which was deemed and reported to be quite conservative in nature as some outcomes, such as increased educational performance and reduced crime, were excluded due to what was termed as insufficient empirical evidence, was that the monetary value of the benefit that sport brings to a country like Wales was valued in that every £1 invested in sport brings about a remarkable £4.44 social return

This is undoubtedly another, quite astounding, proof of the benefit of sport and physical activity in our life.

May our islands also take heed of such a study and also continue to instigate and methodically invest further in sport with a clear long-term strategic plan not only for the good of the sector in itself but also for the overall economic and social wellbeing of our nation.

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