Making sure your child wins at school sport
There’s more to school sports than results, says Greg Hurvitz.
In the modern day and age of immediate satisfaction we sometimes, as sports coaches, overlook our own job — to coach. To coach means to develop, to develop means to take a specific interest in the child who is your player and build this person’s character and skills — this means caring as well.

But today, results are the only measure, and this has crept into school sport. I strongly believe that we use the term high performance far too quickly as a disguise for chasing results which offer immediate satisfaction.

My first taste of it was as a school rugby coach in 2004. I sweated blood and tears for all the boys I coached, believing that giving the young person the best experience possible would stand him in far better stead than driving at results all the time.

I lost one game mid-season and was called in by the headmaster who knew nothing about sport at a school where rugby is the be-all and end-all. I was informed that perhaps it was time I moved out the position and allowed for new thinking to come in! All that was important was results. The fact that I had changed three boys’ academic commitment meant nothing. The facts that socially the boys were taking better decisions, that as a team they were united and that this was shaping their characters all meant nothing.

Where I am different is in thinking winning cannot come at the cost of the players’ welfare and experience. This experience is crucial to the development of the player on a holistic level.

This is a model which says real experiences will lead to a well-rounded player who will derive strength from all experiences, including negative ones.negative as well. If we fast-track players under the guise of high performance, which I believe is a common occurrence as young as under-11, without an appropriate understanding of a player’s experiences it may even have the opposite result than that desired.

My employers at the time failed to understand this and so do many other schools, clubs, provinces and national teams. Perhaps one of the reasons our sports results are so erratic is that development in sport has a superficial edge to it- that of corporate branding.

We need real impact and follow through, for social change that adds value to South African society. I would like to see schools leaving their so-called younger superstars in their peer groups as long as possible and not upgrading them to first-team level too early. Understandably some talent is just too good to ignore but that’s the exception.

I challenge school sports programmes to seek real value versus commercial and superficial value, and other organisations, including corporates and government departments, to do the same thing: To drive hard at experiences, mould future champions appropriately from a young age and put in place a coaching infrastructure that will make sure we build from the bottom up.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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