It has already been a memorable Summer – and we’re only just into August. With a prolonged heatwave that has put the fabled sunshine of 1976 in the shade and England’s most successful World Cup campaign in 28 years. I always find it interesting to observe the change in moods, focus and behaviours brought about, on a national scale, when events like these occur. Socially, everyone seems to be that little bit happier and more relaxed when it is warm outside. There is less hurry-hurry, more chit-chat in the park and a positive vibe around the place. And it also has people reaching for their own sports gear…
As with all sporting occasions where there is a heightened level of success or national pride, the knock-on effects are equally eye-catching. It happened when England won the Rugby World Cup, Andy Murry’s first Wimbledon win and in superabundance during the 2012 Olympics. In fact, one of the primary legacy ambitions of the London Olympics Committee was to enthuse a new generation to take part in sport.
Gareth’s heroes and your children
The feeling of goodwill and support for the efforts of the national team has compelled even more children than ever to visit local parks and kick a ball around with friends this Summer. All over the country, mini Kanes, Pickfords and Maguires are emulating their heroes with goals, saves and superhuman commitment. It seems that success breeds enthusiasm for participation.
Of course, the achievement of the national team will soon become another statistic and memory (albeit a happy one). We will look back with pride and dig out the footage of a successful penalty shootout, some stunning individual performances and the potential for future glory.
But what is the point of it all? Do these sporting successes serve everyday families in our country any more than simply making them feel good for a few weeks?
I believe that, as parents, teachers and role models for young people, we all have a greater responsibility to do more. Whether it is using the intrinsic motivation of a hyper-visual and emotionally engaging national event or creating our own local activities – we owe it to children to stimulate their enthusiasm for health and wellbeing.
A lifetime of good health and fitness is a longer and happier life. Fact! People are not born with a passion for looking after themselves and keeping fit – they are influenced by what happens around them. And the sooner in life that children are introduced to the self-perpetuating effects of physical activity, the more likely they are to keep up healthy habits for the rest of their lives.
Winning is a great habit to create…
No one can ever tell me that a tendency towards physical activity is not an inbuilt part of the way that human beings are built – any more than they can shake my belief that every child enjoys winning. Poor life habits and missed opportunities, as we grow older, are the things that stop peoples’ natural desire to get involved and stay healthy.
Let’s all make an effort to continue Gareth and the boy’s legacy and encourage one another to keep active, keep believing and keep coming home to our natural state of wanting to stay healthy.