Posted 11/05/2020 in Category 1

Afterschool sports programmes are for sport and for life

Afterschool sports programmes are for sport and for life


There is an assumption held by most people that sport teaches people about themselves and about life; in short, sport is a good grounding for life. But what lies under this assumption? After all we know that people suffer horrendous sport injuries (e.g., J T McNamara paralysed from a fall in a horse race) and some people die (e.g., Ayrton Senna in motor racing) in pursuit of their sporting goals. Others lie, cheat and seek every advantage to win regardless of what happens to others along this journey. We can place more names, hundreds and thousands of names against each of these downsides in sport. You might wonder whether sport is about developing character or revealing character? 


If we jump across the divide to what is healthy and worthwhile about sport, we can raise many upsides. Children and adolescents who take part in sport are likely to continue taking part in physical activity for a lifetime. They develop motor skills, co-ordination, and become experts in their chosen sport through effort, strategy and discipline. They learn to cope with setbacks, overcome mistakes and play a role in a team or squad. They realise what it means to be part of a unit that sets a goal and spends months or years trying to achieve it. These points hold weight but what happens in an initiative life afterschool sport? Does an afterschool project help children and adolescent build life skills for life outside sport?


Okseon and colleagues examined the influence of an afterschool programme on adolescents’ life skills development. Four boys and two girls took part in a 12-week afterschool programme to build sports skills and life skills. The researchers interviewed the participants and their instructors to establish what the programme offered and the categories of life skills developed through the programme. Four categories of life skills developed through the programme:(1) playing well and being more active, (2) connecting well and having better social skills, (3) coping well and becoming a better problem solver, and (4) dreaming well and having a better sense of purpose. These life skills emerged because the adolescents had an obvious goal, firm yet flexible structures and instructors who held effective strategies for developing life skills. 


This research and several studies like it suggest that afterschool programmes set up with the right goals in mind and supportive instructors offers much more than developing sport skills and physical activity – these programmes prepare adolescents for life. There is so much more on offer in sport, especially after school sport, when the objectives are set out beforehand and the support staff are keen to achieve these objectives. Let’s keep life and sport goals pointed in the same direction. 


Reference

Okseon Lee, Mirim Park, Kyunghwan Jang & Yongnam Park (2017) Life lessons after classes: investigating the influence of an afterschool sport program on adolescents’ life skills development, International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 12:1, 1307060, DOI: 10.1080/17482631.2017.1307060


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