Unpacking the symbiotic relationship between sport and education

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"Education and sport are mutually beneficial, and schools that can help learners leverage both tend to have happier, healthier, and better-rounded students." Photo: Getty Images.
"Education and sport are mutually beneficial, and schools that can help learners leverage both tend to have happier, healthier, and better-rounded students." Photo: Getty Images.

Silas Pillay, Director of Academics at The Love Trust, shares his experience of how he finds education and sport mutually beneficial.

Sadly, we often think of sport and learning in opposition to one another and that if you are good at one, you don't need the other.

An ideology reinforced through ugly stereotypes such as jocks and nerds in popular culture and the seemingly insatiable demand for new talent across sporting industries promising young athletes and -women lavish lifestyles and salaries without educational prerequisites.

The truth is that education and sport are mutually beneficial, and schools that can help learners leverage both tend to have happier, healthier, and better-rounded students.

Sports provide learners with a platform to develop physically through training and practice life lessons and interpersonal skills—all of which contribute to a more holistic education that will benefit learners in the long run.

Read: OPINION | Active children perform better - why exercise should be included in the school curriculum

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on this relationship as playing (both in the classroom and during break periods), and sports activities (team sports in particular) were put on hold or severely limited.

This was highly frustrating for children of this young age group who rely on play and sports to build social interaction skills and alleviate stress, frustration, and pent-up energy – all of which contributed to poor learning as children were more distracted (the pandemic posed a whole new world of uncertainties) and less engaged with their lessons.

That is why sports and other extracurricular activities are crucial at The Love Trust's Nokuphila School. The Love Trust's focus on holistic learning at a young age and their nurturing and support of their young athletes have contributed to several success stories among their alumni.

Two siblings making names for themselves in their respective sports shared how playing sports has changed their lives and what role The Love Trust had in affecting that change.

Also read: Learning through adventure: the many skills that can be taught outside the classroom

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Tshwarelo Chiloane holding her medals and awards. Photo: Supplied/ The Love Trust.

Tshwarelo Chiloane is currently a Grade 10 pupil at Eqinisweni Secondary School in Ivory Park and will soon participate in the regional netball trials. She plays guard attack, although feels confident in playing any position on the field.

She has received trophies and awards at nearly every level of the sport that she's competed in so far, which has hugely boosted her confidence both on and off the sports field and made her more assertive about her ambitions and goals in life.

"I have gained leadership skills," she says, "I've learned determination and made good friends."

She believes that playing sports has given her a platform to shine and showcase her talents, making her a more fit and healthy student.

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Lesego Chiloane holding his medals and awards. Photo: Supplied/The Love Trust.

Lesego Chiloane is in Grade 9 and attending Tsosoloso ya Africa Secondary School in Ebony Park and has been selected to train with the under 17 Mamelodi Sundowns soccer team as centre back.

Like his sister, his sport has provided him with access to new places, environments, and people. All contribute to broader viewpoints and experiences outside of his community and school.

"I have gained leadership skills and found new and fantastic friends," he says.

Lesego also believes that soccer has also provided him with the opportunity to push himself and test his limits; to help him discover the type of person he is.

He also has numerous awards, medals and trophies that speak to his success as a soccer player. He'll soon be testing his mettle against other aspiring soccer players, many older than him, for a spot in the under 19 Mamelodi Sundowns team.

Despite the lack of support, encouragement, access to equipment or even sports grounds at their current schools. By contrast, Tshwarelo and Lesego thank Nokuphila, their former primary school, for grooming them into the certified athletes they are and for the love and support during their tuition there, such as donating sporting kits and other equipment.

Must see: Olympic gold medallist Ryk Neethling advocates for water safety after nearly drowning as a child 

Yet, the enormous thank you should be to their biggest fan and greatest supporter - their mother, Thelma Chiloane.

She has made sure that their sporting aspirations continued beyond Nokuphila and is involved and takes a keen interest in their school careers.

Having the unwavering support and love of a parent is priceless for any pupil and a critical factor in a child's healthy growth and development both on and off the sports field.

In closing, Tshwarelo has pearls of wisdom which can resonate with any successful sportsperson who was given the opportunity to discover their passions early on:

"Playing sport at a young age is good and fun because you start something like a girl and boy and then realise that it's important for your future when you're in high school."


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