WORDS BY ERICA NEWTON, MYFIRSTGYM CO-FOUNDER
Our kids are living through their own generational pandemic: the Inertia Plague. A lack of movement beyond their fingers across a screen. A withdrawal from face-to-face contact. A distinct dread of getting out of their pyjamas on the weekend/holidays. Research shows it’s official: our kids’ participation in sports is in free-fall. The Covid Pandemic may be last month’s news cycle, but the Inertia Plague has settled for the foreseeable future over our children. And it’s just as detrimental to their health as the spicy cough.
Research shows sports are one of the best ways to improve the physical health and overall wellbeing of our children. New physical skills are developed. Friendships outside usual school groups are formed. Self-esteem and resilience are boosted. In short, kids who are physically active in sports are healthier from the inside out and they feel better about themselves. So, if being on the local football, netball or cricket team is so amazing, why are more and more children opting out and, in the process, feeling more anxious, less motivated and increasingly unhealthy?
The boss of
the best game on earth AFL, Gillon McLachlan, has linked our reliance on devices during the Covid pandemic as a major factor. He said in this article that early adolescents especially are “living in their screens”. But we can’t just point the finger at Roblox and Snapchat as the only germ infecting our kids’ will to play.
In an Australian Sports Commission (ASC) report, a large study found evidence that a significant number of Australia’s young people (especially in adolescence) had stopped participating in sport. Major factors inhibiting children from playing sports included:
- Lack of confidence, fitness or skill in an established nor new sport.
- The competitiveness of sport and time commitment to it was overwhelming.
- Disinterest increased when repetitive or unorganised activities were delivered by those inexperienced in the sport.
At MyFirstGym, a lot of children who come through the club doors for the first time fit into one of the above categories. They’ve quit their team sport because they feel they aren’t good enough, or have had a negative experience with repetitive or chaotic training. All is not lost though. The report made several recommendations targeting those children who felt disengaged from sports. The ASC suggested reinvigorating our children’s love of physical activity through trying the following:
- A new sport.
- A new sport where all children were ‘new’ or at a lower ability.
- Organisations which offered the competition without the commitment and intensity.
- Sport with established friends or in an environment which encouraged a team ethos.
I wonder where you could find a one stop shop addressing all those recommendations, which fit into your busy lifestyle and got the kids excited about sport 🤔?
I’ve seen first-hand just how beneficial a safe, engaging and encouraging sporting space can be for kids. I remember a child at our very first MFG club at Hawthorne, who was so focused and happy to be in our Gymnastics class. When I asked him why he loved it, he said, “It makes me better at footy, and I love footy now!” He was only 8 years old and had already noticed the improvement gymnastics had made with his coordination, speed and agility on the AFL field. It was a defining moment for me: MFG was making a positive difference to kids and their love of physical activity.
Another key observation from the ASC report was that, “Australians desire greater flexibility, more tailored products and sports that work for them.” You can’t get a better endorsement for the versatility (and affordability) of MFG’s programs than that.
Get your kids excited about sports and in doing so, improved their health and wellbeing. Take a look at your local MyFirstGym today.