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How much is too much when it comes to youth sport?

How much is too much when it comes to youth sport?

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Balance is Better Principles Poster

Creating a positive parent culture

Creating a positive parent culture

Unpacking the Balance is Better principles

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Running good trials and selections

With the end in mind

I found myself over the weekend pondering two decades into the future. 

As a new parent (with a 9-month-old), these moments, wondering about the future, have been far and few between lately. 

Thinking about the here and now to just get through the day (and the night) seem to be all I can muster most of the time. 

But having stumbled upon this great piece by Skye Eddy, my mind began whirring, casting forward to 20 years from now. Asking myself, what might my son’s relationship to sport look like? 

In her blog post, Reflections on my daughter’s final college game, Skye, writes: 

There are a handful of endings built-in to our sporting structures in America. The last high school game, the last club tournament played, the final college game. Of course, these traditional endings hold an important place. Cali’s final regular season college game was met with some wonderful traditions – a special pre-game walk out with family, flowers, decorated lockers, and post-game celebrations.  

Unfortunately, we often frame these endings as just that – the end. The end of a playing career. The end of competitive soccer. The end of playing on a team.  In fact, as I hugged Cali after the game, I heard one of her senior teammates say “Well, that was the last soccer game I will ever play.” THAT STATEMENT hurt my heart a bit. 


Closer to home in Aotearoa, while our youth sport structures might look different to those in USA, we share some similar challenges. 

To these types of challenges, Skye poses the question, 

Could an important step in reframing the beginning of a youth players experience be to reframe the end?” 

What would youth sport look like if we were fixated on the number of players, participants and athletes, that were a life-long member or customer? 

What if we celebrated these types of successes and stories, just like we did if we won the World Cup? 

As Stephen Covey teaches, we ought to begin with the end in mind. 

Well then, perhaps for sports administrators, coaches and parents the end we ought to strive for is growing a lifelong love for your game, or sport more generally. And any success, in the more traditional sense – whether that be a weekend wonder story or world championship – is just a cherry on the top. 


A memory this time.  

I’m transported to a conversation with Ross. My mother’s friend. In his 60s. 

I hadn’t seen Ross in close to 10 years. We were talking, exchanging the normal kind of pleasantries you do in similar situations. Somehow the conversation took a turn to me playing football over the weekend. The wrinkles on Rosses face seemed to shift at this. He perked up and dialed in to the conversation a bit more. Upon reflection, what transpired next was almost some kind of admiration or reverence on Ross’s behalf.  

I think I must have still been a bit ambivalent at the time. I didn’t think hoofing a ball with my mates on the weekend on a regular basis as I enter my mid-30s was special. But I think Ross did. And come to think of it, Ross was and is right to think like that.  

I guess the question I have from here is how do you bottle that mindset that Ross had? And connect it with the intentions and actions of administrators, coaches and parents who oversee the young Kiwis that will run around fields and courts this coming weekend? 

If you have any ideas, let me know. 

As for me, well I certainly hope that in 20 years’ time, I’ll be able to look back and celebrate that my son is playing and has a love for sport as he enters adulthood. 

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