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Keys to Youth Sport Development
The success of youth sports development is dependent upon the quality of the leadership competencies of administrators, coordinators, coaches and parents. In addition to the development of the youth skill sets and fitness levels through habitual of physical activity, important social and emotional skills, values and high levels of self-esteem can also be nurtured.
However, there are several barriers to youth participation in sport and physical activity. These barriers are related to societal socio-economic factors. The pressures of the education system coupled with parents focus on passing exams serves as a disincentive to the youth participating in physical activity. Some parents and adults may see engagement in physical activity as a waste of time and some children come to accept this as an unfortunate ‘truth.’ Additionally, there are more leisure options such as social media, malls, movies, etc.
Sport provides the youth with the opportunity through their interaction with coaches, parents and their peers to improve their overall social and emotional intelligence. These skill-sets have the potential to assist the youth in managing her/his emotions and be able to address various interpersonal issues as they arise.
Parents and coaches have to impress upon the youth the importance of the team ethos. Failure on the part of adults to intervene in a timely manner may result in the youth developing a negative attitude of her/himself which may result in them withdrawing from sports participation. Additionally, parents and adults probably do more harm to the youth self-esteem when they make personal negative comments about coaches when their children are not selected to play or given less playing time. This negative attitude does not help prepare the youth to face the realities of the world as well as frees the youth of her/her possible technical weaknesses that need improving.
As such it is important that the youth programmes implemented by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs and private organizations have as one of its components the teaching of physical, social, and emotional benefits that are usually associated to sports participation. Additionally, administrators, coaches, instructors, and mentors must be qualified and competent to ensure the development ethos of the programmes are consistently transmitted to all youth. The potential is there, the key is conceptualizing, implementing and constantly monitoring and evaluating youth sports programmes.
"I don't feel it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning." Michel Foucault
Anand Rampersad PhD
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