Support drives a child to succeed, not ranting and raving from the side-line

2014-01-17 00:00

ANOTHER year has started and ahead, loom 12 lovely months of unrelenting sport action from around the world.

The mind boggles at what is available and on our screens in the comfort of our lounges as the sports fan and couch potato settle into their version of heaven.

Closer to home, it’s another sporting year for thousands of school children. For some, it’s a continuation of where they left off, pushing for greater heights and goals in their chosen discipline, while for others, it’s a new beginning, a time to settle into a sport and fashion the building blocks for success.

It’s a great prospect for those school children keen on getting out there and adopting an extramural activity as their own. For the gifted and talented, hours in the classroom are lost in dreams of greatness and waiting for the sound of the final bell that heralds the beginning of afternoon sport activities.

While a son or daughter participates and works on their skills, deciding if they want to pursue a certain sport, there is often an ugly spot disrupting their journey, often ruining what talent and resolve they have to succeed.

A truly gifted sportsperson comes along very rarely and the rest of them have to do the hard yards to gain recognition and then, work even harder to maintain and surpass the level already achieved.

Back to the black spot though. That black spot is the over-demanding, ultra-competitive parent, the one who hovers over a child, wanting the best and nothing less, pushing them to the limit, shouting from the side-lines and, in all honesty, ruining any ambition or goal they may have harboured. Giving it careful consideration, it’s a form of abuse which no child ever asks for and definitely does not deserve. Let’s remember the basic component of sport and what it’s about. Yes, it is a contest and more often than not, there has to be a loser. The mark of a true sportsperson and team is to play fair, play hard and be humble in defeat. If defeat cannot be dealt with, it’s time to be locked away in a room to read books.

Take Jacques Kallis as an example. A giant of world cricket, yet a man humble to the core, a man who used his talent, appreciated the game and accepted what came his way. It was said he was the last of the true cricket players when he announced his retirement at the Boxing Day Test against India in Durban last year and people wondered what such a statement meant.

What it means is he is a man who knows he is not bigger than the game and what he has in life has been possible through playing cricket. He realised the importance of continually working at the game, feeding his talent and knowing he was not above anyone else. He too could get a first baller, he too could battle with form, he too could feel on the verge of giving up.

But he showed his class by refusing to lie down, working through the difficulties, the technical weaknesses and rising from the ashes every time. He played fair, he played hard but what happened on the field stayed there and friendships off the field remain for life. He never shouted, he never boasted. Instead, he has left perhaps the mightiest set of statistics for cricket connoisseurs to pore over for decades to come, his name forever etched into the game’s highest echelons.

That is the example to aspire to and inspire children. No matter how much talent a parent may think a child has, nothing comes naturally and it takes work, encouragement and belief to make the grade and get to the top. Nurturing, support and sacrifice is what drives a child on to success, not ranting and raving from the side-line.

Sport is a great leveller. One moment it’s pure bliss, appearing easy to some, yet it can flip in an instant, that magic touch suddenly gone, that purple patch now a matter for survival in a team. The ups and downs of sport build character and, in many instances, maketh a man.

Be wise and realistic. Like an artist or sculptor, mould the perfect piece from what has been given. Many a rose has bloomed from a twig and it takes care and dedication. Pressure, comparisons and criticising poisons the soul and makes people look rather inadequate.

Take a leaf from Jacques Kallis’s book — play, enjoy, relax, accept and above all, display humility in whatever game you play.

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