The Gallery: Sport

Regular readers will know I join in with The Gallery at Sticky Fingers every week. I like doing it. It makes me think about something I wouldn’t otherwise write about – remember an old experience or look at things in a different way. From your point of view as a reader, it also breaks up a whole week of posts on my daughter’s birthday or three whole weeks of posts about moving house.

But this week I took a decision. The Gallery is on Wednesday. But on Wednesday something rather big and life-changing is happening for me – my very last day at the place I’ve worked for 15 years. That’s what I needed to write about. I would give The Gallery a miss. I wouldn’t even look at the theme. But somehow I did look at the theme and it was MY theme. How could I not take part?


The thing that pretty much rules my life.

So I decided to do the only thing I could under the circumstances – write my Gallery post on Tuesday.

A long time ago, my husband said that he would make sure our future kids did sport. Sport, he said, is what keeps kids out of trouble – as well as keeping them healthy, building their confidence, teaching them teamwork and discipline and even helping them to become popular.

He hadn’t played much sport until his early teens – when he’d done football and golf. As a child I’d flitted from one thing to another, as kids do – ballet to horse riding and swimming, a brief flirtation with running , but settling with karate. I did karate for 10 years from the age of 12 to 22.

Our kids started off, of course, with swimming lessons. My eldest didn’t start until he was 4 1/2 and already in reception class, which turned out to be a bit late. So the younger two started as soon as they turned 3. For years we had to suffer go to three swimming lessons a week – sometimes on different days, sometimes on the same day at different times. My eldest never much enjoyed swimming, but it’s an essential life skill, as well as being a social thing for tweens and teens, and I was determined they would reach a reasonable standard.

My younger son had his first experience of football when he was just 4. There was a pre-school football scheme running locally and, as an autumn baby and a very bright one at that, I thought he needed something extra to stimulate him in his ‘extra’ year off school. He loved it, but he didn’t play football again until year 1.

I always felt he had some natural footballing talent, but strangely my husband, the one who’d wanted them to do sport so much hadn’t noticed it. Then when he went to watch him play football after school, he saw it.

‘We have to get him into a team!’

He researched teams and found there was one based in our village. The rest is history.

The team was under 7s and under 8s together, but the following year the older kids would become a separate team of their own as under 9s. The new under 8s would need a coach. My husband became that coach. He helped out in the under 7s season, before taking over fully at under 8s. We’re now at the end of the under 10s season.

My son is thriving and loving his football. He’s one of the better players in the team. He usually plays in defence because he’s so strong, but he’d love to play in midfield. Like all boys, all he really wants is to score a goal – he’s scored a couple in recent weeks and he couldn’t be happier. His is fast, he is fit and he is very happy in his football (as long as he’s not cold or hungry).

My husband has built up the team from virtually nothing. I admire his dedication, because it’s an endless source of stress for him. Players come and go. Sometimes their departure hits the team hard. They’re in league 1 and take a thrashing pretty much every week, yet they are a good team with good players and, most importantly, the kids all enjoy playing football.


My eldest wanted to play rugby for a while before I let him. My brother played rugby and, in my view, it changed him. Or maybe it was just being a teenager. But I always said no child of mine would ever play rugby. But his friends played and his friend’s dad was the coach. In the end I couldn’t say no. He started when he was 9 and in the under 10s season. He joined a big, successful squad. He enjoyed his rugby and learned fast. But, having joined a big squad late on, he was never a first choice player – he was always the one brought on at half-time.

Fast forward three years and there are 15 kids on the pitch. Some 12 and 13 year old boys look like adults. My son looks tiny against them. Watching them play can be a terrifying experience. Just the other day he was carried off the pitch with a sprained ankle after a nasty tackle. Now my son gets on the pitch more than he did in the early days. His best friend and his dad the coach have moved away, but my son has stuck it out, which I admire him for.

For three months, rugby was what my eldest did. I wanted him to do it without his little brother being better than him. It’s not easy being the slightly-above-average elder brother of a gifted and talented child. But then my younger son watched the rugby for a week and he was there playing the following week.

As I suspected, he was a more talented player.

Although football is his first love, my younger son loves his rugby too. He’s now in his under 10s season with the County Cup just days away. They’ve made the semi-finals for the last two years, this year they are determined to win. I can’t wait to watch.


And so to my daughter. The dancer.

Yes, dance is a sport. She is strong, toned, fit and skilled. She has great control over her body – some of it is natural, much of it is down to dance. It’s hard to compare dance with football or rugby, but I suspect she is a better dancer than her brother is a football player.

She started at the age of 4 doing street dance. She immediately shone and stood out as the best. At the age of 6, three years later than all the other kids, she started ballet. Within six months she was one of the best in the class. At the age of 7 she added a contemporary and street hybrid to the repertoire – perfect for a street dancing ballerina. The class was for year 3-6 and she was only in year 2, but she went and won the trophy for most promising dancer in the class. And just a month after that, she started tap. In tap too she’s caught the other kids up, and overtaken many of them.


I might have known this would be a long post, but my husband’s wise words all those years ago were so right. Your kids don’t have to be multi-talented to do sport, they just need some dedication. Sport helps in all aspects of life – confidence, friendship, fitness and strength. You might not want to spend your weekends on the touchlines, but I absolutely believe it is the key to parenting school age children.

This was written in response to a prompt on The Gallery at Sticky Fingers. Pop over on Wednesday to see how others have interpreted the theme of sport.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I couldn’t agree more about kids and sport Sarah. When I was at school all the kids who played sport were part of something; someone always had their back. And even now my husband is still friends with the boys he played rugby and football with.
    I just like that it teaches them lessons they’re unlikely to get elsewhere and also gives them something to be competitive about. Kids needs a bit of competition as the schools have pretty much wiped it out

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  2. Thanks very much, Tara. They certainly do need that bit of competition. It teaches them so many valuable skills.
    Great that your husband is still friends with his childhood team-mates 🙂

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  3. What a lovely post. My Dad was a linesman and laterly a referree so I grew up surrounded by football kits, either his or my brother’s. I preferred being in the warm with gymnastics. Monkey is having swimming lessons whilst I try to overcome my own water demons. I’d like him to start Karate when he is 5. His father has no sporting interest at all, so I wonder whether the football gene will come through from my side? We will see, but I will encourage sporting acitivities. I think it’s a vital part of growing up #TheGallery

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  4. I totally agree that kids need something in their extra-curricular lives. I’n not convinced it has to be sport, although my kids both love their football and karate. My daughter is a huge fan of drama and music, and that’s what I find her doing daily outside her classes – making up choreography or alternative lyrics. For me it was music – by the time I was 15 I was at various orchestra or choir rehearsals 5 times a week. I strongly believe that kids who have something they love, excel at, and that takes them into different social settings outside of school, are happier, more rounded individuals as they grow up. I feel sad for the teenagers hanging out on the streets, rather than cross – this is what they do because they don’t have a passion or an activity to focus on outside of school. I could go on and on about this, but it’s what makes me want to support Gove’s idea of extra-curricular hours in schools (despite the fact that I don’t because of how flawed his plan is)!

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  5. What a great post Sarah, knew yours would be a good one! Wow! Totally agree about kids having sport in their lives. I’m sure when POD’s at school the decision of where she goes will come down to how much sport is played. She’s only 3 but we recently got her started with gymnastics as she loves to climb and has great balance. She loves the apparatus at least.

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  6. I think you are spot on with this, I’m really looking forward to getting Meg and Eli into sports, Eli starts at a football class next week in fact. It was such a massive part of my childhood and I think I learned a lot of lessons from being part of a team, as well as knowing my own capabilities. I love that all of your children are very much involved in sports, this is where I want to be in a couple of years!

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  7. I love the sound of this, but I remember HATING sport as a child, in every way, shape and form, which I blame partly on evil PE teachers, and partly on parents who weren’t overly sporty either. L has done various sports as after school activities, but nothing seems to overly appeal, so we move on to something else. For now the only thing that she likes is dance, drama and singing, so we’re sticking with that for a while, and swimming as I totally agree with you on that one.,

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  8. You’ve got such a sporty family! Good on them all. I used to hate PE at school but I loved going to cheerleading. Getting to dance and do stunts was lots of fun.

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  9. It certainly sounds like you have your hands full with all the sports your children enjoy, you must constantly be running them about. I think if they enjoy it it is a great thing to encourage.

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  10. this is so right Sarah i think teams and dedication to them brings out so many skills and teaches so many things i have always been into sport dancing from 3 – 18 hockey 11-20, water sports and now back to hockey! i wouldnt have it any other way! x

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  11. Thanks very much, everyone. I hope Monkey gets your sporting genes, Mary!
    I agree with you, Actually Mummy. Drama was my thing as a kid and I always wanted my kids to do it, but so far none of them have shown an interest. When my husband said that all those years ago about sport, I pointed out that music and drama could be just as good. All of my kids do music too (which neither of us ever did), but the sport is more important to them. I like that it keeps them healthy and fit as well as all of the benefits of music and drama.
    Lovely to hear about kids already enjoying sport at a young age.
    L is still young to decide on what she wants to do, FM. But dance and drama are good 🙂
    I certainly am always running round, Mummy of Two!
    I always love to read about your hockey, Jaime! I think it’s fab that you went back to something you did as a child.

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  12. Great post Sarah, sport is a big part of our family too, it teaches them so many different skills too 🙂 thanks for sharing at the weekend blog hop 🙂

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  13. totally totally agree. I have grown up with sport and I have one hooked on rugby (a girl no less) and looking for other sporting ideas for the next 2. Thanks for your thoughts – really interesting.

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  14. Thanks very much, ladies. I know how much you love sport in your family too, Claire!
    Impresssed that you have a rugby playing girl, Mama Elsie. We have a small number of girls at our club (although not in either of my sons’ teams), and one girl in my son’s football team.

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