How that competitive spirit is crucial for a child
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:
- They are individual sports
- 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.
For parents who love outdoor activity, it’s easier to develop in children a hunger and desire to excel. Youngsters love the challenge and have no fear. Fear is what adults have – and nurture – unfortunately.
Children who play sports regularly have better confidence and social skills, develop better decision-making skills, and learn to solve problems with the help of others.
Do note this when you’re around children next time – they all want to grow up to be Cristiano Ronaldo, Lewis Hamilton or even Rafael Nadal.
Very few people grow up aspiring to be lawyers or accountants.
That’s their goal, just like ours was years ago. But now, it’s actually possible to make a living doing what you love and not what your parents want you to.
Sad for some parents, great for the leaders of tomorrow.
In my experience with tournaments around the country from ages 10 and above, children will learn to adapt and develop themselves given proper encouragement.
Here’s the thing though – it’s a long haul.
You’re not only developing a player/skill but also a human being to his/her potential. It’s not about winning, it’s about developing the person.
Here I would like to add that, if your child loses, deal with it. Learn from it, share it with them and develop their skills. Don’t try and change the rules to ensure a win. You’re setting the wrong example.
Tennis coaches in Malaysia will tell you that young girls are easier to teach the sport as they learn the techniques rather than to try to use their power like the boys.
Basic skills to play the game and the correct fundamentals will always help progress. There are no shortcuts.
Thus, today in my hiring practices, my technique is simple. I realise that someone who plays a team sport has an easier time working with a team.
This is not necessarily iron-clad but it does show you whether the potential recruit will play with a team or for themselves.
I have found that candidates who are active in sports are willing to do more, realise their potential and know that their extra effort will pay off. This may not be immediate, but there is a payoff.
This is a key ingredient for me as we work out in the elements, and plans change to accommodate the changing environment and landscape.
It’s also imperative to have candidates or staff who can think on their feet. I have a client who races in GP3 in Europe and is only 19 years old.
On top of being away eight months of the year, he studies law and just sat for this Part 1. He has to study while on planes and at home daily, on top of a gruelling fitness regime.
His goal is to be in Formula One. His father supports him but insists that he studies as well to ensure that he can draft and sign his own contracts in future.
This is an example of someone who has the hunger, desire and discipline to be successful with parental support. He is easy to work with because he is focused on success and develops himself with that in mind.
Just to share, here’s my mantra – respect the training, honour the commitment and cherish the results. I try to remind myself of this daily.
Manvir is the founder and chief sports officer of SportsguruAsia. They manage athletes and organise youth development events. To engage with him, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org