AS a parent you do everything you can to ensure that your child is given the best start in life and that good habits set in at an early age and stay consistent through the terrible teens into adulthood.
Sport is an exceptionally good habit and every day you can read about the benefits it bring to those who participate.
The benefits of an active life are many and varied. Sport keeps you fit, helping avoid some of life’s dreadful ailments. It helps your mental health strong which gives you strength and resilience. It also helps form a good character, giving focus, determination and team building skills, to name some other benefits, which can take you from your early school days, through to college or university and then onto a career path.
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In fact, to be honest there are so many benefits, that it would take some time to list them all and on the surface, their doesn’t seem to be many, if any, disadvantages.
Well there is one thing I did forget to mention, it can also cripple your family financially.
What starts out in many occasions a simple hobby can quite quickly turn into a vocation, an expensive one at that, when you think about travel costs to training and competition, training kit and equipment, competition fees... Yes, I have created yet again, another endless list.
This won’t come as news or a shock to most parents who have, I must add happily in most cases, supported their children through the different levels in sport. For nearly all athletes, their vocation is funded by the bank of Mum and Dad.
Yet despite this pressure on families, Scotland have provided many top class athletes over the years and I am sure each and every one of them owes a huge debt of thanks to their parents and grandparents.
Let’s be honest here, there are not many sports which can afford to financially support their athletes, even those who have shown great promise or indeed are at the elite end of the spectrum; this would be an impossible task.
However, what happens when a parent can no longer fund their child’s involvement in sport, when they don’t have that extra few pounds for a new pair of boots, a new swimming costume an upgrade to the mountain-bike, money to cover competition fees.
This for many is a reality. And what happens when you have more than one budding athlete in the family.
The other stark reality is that is it becoming more and more difficult to secure sponsorship to sport the ambition of athletes. Companies are looking for a bigger return in terms of their involvement and visibility, and this can’t always be secured, given the rules and regulations surrounding some sports.
However, despite this pressure, I know at least of two families who will be celebrating this week and feeling that all their investment into their children at an early age, has indeed paid off.
First there is Katie Archibald from Glasgow, who as a young girls took up swimming before she moved over to cycling. The extremely down to earth talented cyclist, who was the Oriam Sportswomen of the Year at our SSE Awards Dinner back in November 2016, lifted Britain’s first gold medal of 2017 in the Track Cycling World Championships this week.
This success was followed with another gold, this time from erudite swimmer, Hannah Miley who won the 400IM, just 04 outside the World Qualification time at the British Championships, also this week.
Whilst we are all quick to send our congratulations to the athletes, and rightly so, let’s also take a little time out to thank mum and dad and the extended family. Through their continued love and support and of course, considerable financial investment, they have ensured that all the opportunities that came to their own children, were fully supported.
The early morning swimming practice, the puncture repairs, the listening ear and strong shoulder, given all so readily are now a distant memory as they can clearly focus on the outcome of these selfless acts, through the success of their children in their chosen pathway.