Much research has been done on how sport is fundamental in the holistic development of children. In addition to physical fitness for growth and strength, soft skills such as team work, fair play and respect for coaches and opponents contribute to our kids’ social and emotional health.
Children who participate in sport also demonstrate the following (just to name a few):
Appreciation for the outdoors (and sweating it out)
Better stress management and mental wellbeing
Enhanced self confidence and self esteem
Healthy social life
Reduced possibility of obesity
Azhar Yusof, Director of CoachSG, Singapore Sport Institute shares with us how sport is a key part of his life and why it is crucial in every child’s development.
“Put simply, “the human body is made to move”. Physical development is crucial for anyone and everyone to perform our daily tasks well, from the simplest of functional movements like walking and running, to more complex movements in sport involving coordination and rhythm.” Azhar explains.
“In reality, our ability to move does not just happen without thinking. Which is why the term “psychomotor” has both cognitive and physical components. We cannot and should not separate the two for holistic development - our children’s cognitive progress goes hand in glove with their physical growth.”
Azhar believes schools in Singapore are tuned into this concept and have adopted certain approaches to include sport in children’s curriculum, but there is certainly more that can be done, by involving parents and children.
“Besides school teachers, parents are effectively the other group who can give children the best support. Recognising that parents are key in children’s many developmental milestones, we piloted My 1st Coach programme to guide parents who want to play a part. Most parents are not PE trained, and may not know what they can and should do to boost their children’s psychomotor skills, but not to worry as online resources are available here.”
Azhar’s recommendation to parents is to guide children on how and why our body behaves the way it does.
“Involve and empower our kids to become self-directed learners and sustain a physically active and healthy lifestyle through their adulthood. You may be wondering - how do we even get our kids interested to understand the benefits? By making it fun and engaging! This is very much our approach when designing FUN (Fun Fundamentals, teaching for Understanding, Nurturing through praises and feedback) and DREAM (ambiDEX²terity - Discover, Explore, Experiment) used in My 1st Coach programme.”
With more than 25 years as a national rugby player and subsequently in coach education and development, Azhar’s passion is still going strong. He practises “living better through sport” and embodies his beliefs not only at work but also in his personal and family time.
“My family enjoys sport together, we go cycling or skate-scooting on weekends. My daughter is into dance and the outdoors, and my son is into football, gymnastics and wushu.”
“My wife and I strongly believe that experiencing sport from a young age impacts individuals through their entire life. Growing up in an environment where there is room for them to explore, experiment and learn from failing, my children are not afraid to experience new and challenging activities. They have completed a two-hour caving experience, white water rafting and more. Their early exposure to a myriad of sport experiences has encouraged them to cultivate a "Dare to Do" attitude. It is heartening to see how they have grown up with sport to become independent and resilient individuals who do not give up easily.”
Lastly, Azhar credits his involvement in sport for where he is. “I am grateful for how sport has shaped my character and my children. In return, I want to create opportunities for more children and youth to embrace sport during their developmental years.”