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What kids learn from team sports, and it's not all about health

While it may feel like you are constantly on the go, playing taxi driver with your kids, taking the time out of your day to encourage the little ones to participate in team sports is well worth the effort.

According to the Irish Independent, Ireland are currently ranked 5th in Europe for obesity among young girls and women. The statistics for young people in ireland are extremely worrying as 26.5% of girls and 16% of boys under 20 are now considered obese.

Fine Gael Senator Katherine Noone recently commented on the lack of exercise taken by students in school. ‘’We are bottom of the EU league in terms of the time spent on PE in our schools, with Irish children getting just over half the EU average of 109 minutes of PE [per week]’’ the Senator explained.

This lack of exercise taken by kids in school is an issue, but one that can easily be dealt with. Consider taking matters into your own hands and encourage your kids to join a local sports club or team.

While taking part in sport reduces the risk of obesity, type two diabetes and bone and joint problems, it has many other benefits that go beyond improving the physical health of kids.

Getting the kids involved in a team sport will result in many positive outcomes:
    • Team sports teach kids how to co-operate with others. They will soon learn that working together will result in the best outcome for everyone involved. They will learn to be happy for others as other team members successes will benefit the team as a whole.

    • Team sports build self confidence and raise self esteem and are proven to provide girls with a more positive body image. As every player on a team plays an important part in every match, each member feels valued and appreciated.

    • Participating in team sports gives kids a chance to make new friends and learn important life lessons. Kids are less likely to feel isolated as they have a group of friends that work together on a common goal. Playing as part of a team may also help kids to overcome shyness.

    • When playing on a team, kids learn respect for their peers, referees and sport coaches. This is extremely important to learn at a young age, and lessons learned on the sports pitch may help them in later life. Kids will be likely to have more respect for other figures of authority such as bosses and the members of the police

    • Participation in team sports may have emotional benefits for your child, seeing practice pay off is an extremely rewarding result for kids as they see themselves complete their goals. Kids will also learn about winning and losing, learning from mistakes and moving forward.

    • Kids who participate in sport generally do better academically. They are usually determined and have learnt how to set and achieve goals .According to the irish independant, increased physical activity “increases blood flow to the brain and, when combined with learning tasks (either mental or physical), triggers the formation of dendrites – the slender filaments that branch out of the neurons and increase the neural pathways and neural mapping of the brain” which can lead to increased intelligence.

    • Having your kids play on a sports team may reduce the risk of depression and stress. It will likely lead to fewer behavioural problems as kids have an opportunity to channel their energy into something positive.

    • Kids who value sport are less likely to take drugs or smoke as they get older, as they tend to value their health and are aware of the effects of harmful substances.

    • The whole family can enjoy a team sport, as brothers and sister can go along to matches with mum and dad to watch their siblings take part. Parents can help kids practice by kicking or throwing a ball around the garden or at a local sports pitch. Look on your kid’s sport as a great opportunity to create some fun family time.

    • Most importantly, team sports are a great opportunity for your kids to have fun. It will get them out into the fresh air with friends and away from the tv and computer screens - a difficult task for all mums and dads!

Check out our other articles to help you choose an after-school activity for your child

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