Why Is Sports Important?

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How that competitive spirit is crucial for a child

By MANVIR VICTOR

I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way

Whitney Houston sang it best with those words in the beginning of “The Greatest Love of All”.

Unfortunately many parents today tend not to live up to this.

In 2016, I was at the launch of Malaysian athlete’s Kimberley Yap’s book, But By Grace.

In it, she reminisces how her mum moved to Kuala Lumpur from Kuching just to ensure that she had the right nutrition.

Her mum even came to the training pool daily with two rice cookers of food. That’s support and commitment.

Unfortunately today, these stories are too rare.

Years ago, I ran a football academy called Soccergurusasia.

Our goal was to train young children aged eight and above and get them playing regularly and competitively.

Since we were based in Puchong, many of the children came from poorer neighbourhoods.

In many ways, however, this was easier than working with children from more affluent backgrounds as, in my experience, such parents are averse to their children playing outside.

I know what you are thinking: “Come on man, you must be kidding. Really?”

I’ve had parents come to me and tell me that their son would fall ill if they got wet in the rain. So, our coaches ensured that those children sat under the shade whenever it rained.

Then these children came by and told me that the reason they’re sitting down is that their parents don’t want to get the inside of their luxury cars dirty.

Looking at Malaysia and the sports we excel at, such as squash and badminton, we see that:

  1. They are individual sports
  2. They are mostly played indoors

It’s quite sad that we spend extraordinary amounts of money on football and yet we are ranked 170 in the world.

By comparison, we spend a pittance on developing hockey and cricket for which Malaysia is ranked 12 and 26 in the world respectively.

Both these successful sports are managed by people who are younger, and hungry for success.

Ultimately, you can teach a lot, but you can’t teach hunger for success. This has to be systematically created and nurtured into the system.

A study of the Germans in all that they do will show how they make it happen. In Asia, Japan and Korea lead the way.

Children want to play. Whether video games or physical activity, it is our role to encourage that.