The love of sport seems to have no limit

The love of sport seems to have no limit. People in all corners of the world celebrate and share a compelling enthusiasm for sport, despite any barriers that may seem to get in the way. Along with the help of medicine, science and technology, sport is no longer just something that able-bodied people can thrive in. Events such as the Paralympics have brought to light the wealth of opportunity on offer for people in adapted sports and has put the rich talent that these sports own at the forefront of this.

There is something certainly quite uplifting and warming about seeing that despite barriers – physical, emotional, economical or geographical, sport has the power to offer ever-growing opportunity. These days, football is not just a grass pitch with two goals but also a ball containing a bell, using crutches as a balance aid & adapted rules for those with learning difficulties.

Just recently, England took the pitch at the CP (Cerebral Palsy) World Games and left the competition in 4th place after a defeat to Russia.

The successes don’t stop there for England’s adapted football teams. Smashing through to the final, England Deaf Futsal team beat Denmark & Slovakia to be crowned champions of their group.

If ever there was a role model, He Yiyi of China paints the perfect portrait. As an amputee, Yiyi has stunned thousands with his epic performance on the pitch, using crutches to manoeuvre around. Since his surgery 9 years ago, the young lad has worn out 27 pairs of crutches for the love of football. Yiyi embodies the thrive and passion for the sport with his unstoppable nature.

Every 4 years the Paralympics hosts the game for visually impaired footballers, these players use a smaller sized football that is heavier and contains a ball. Players are assigned to 1 of 3 categories based on their visual impairment. B1 is for those who are totally or almost blind, B2 contains players who are partially sighted and can recognised shapes. Lastly, B3 is the category for those with most vision. This year, England B1 team will be competing in The ISBA Blind Football World Champions, having previously come 3rd in the European competition.

The success of these athletes is clearly very evident, and certainly gives the England Football Team a run for their money. These athletes solely embody how if you love something enough, you’ll find a way to do it!

Being Healthy A to Z

Leading on from our previous blog post about the mental health benefits that exercise brings to young ones, this week we are exploring the physical health benefits that giving your children a healthy, active, lifestyle brings.

It is hard to believe that the word “obese” can be used to describe a child so early on in their life, however new figures from the NHS display that in 2015, more than 1 in 5 children in reception were classed as obese.  As figures only increase, as children get older, preventing obesity from a young age is vital.

It is no old wives tale that leading an active, healthy balanced lifestyle is crucial to remain fit & healthy. It does not need to be intimidating, time consuming or expensive to engage your little one in an active lifestyle and our simple A-Z gets down to the nitty-gritty of this.

A – activities. There is certainly no shortage of activities in this day & age. Whether this be a Sunday morning trip to the park or attending an exercise club once a week, giving your child this routine with exercise will help them assume it should be a part of their lifestyle.

B – Bananas. You can’t beat a good banana. Give your child a banana as a snack before they are off running around to increase their energy without the sugary snacks.

C – Clubs. Clubs are a great way to meet new friends & stay active in a fun way. There are multiple free clubs for young children to join & enjoy.

D –  Dinner. Asking your young one to join you to make their dinner will begin to familiarise them with different food groups and healthy eating ideas.
E – Excitement. All parents are aware that young ones are full of beans, what better way to blow out this excitement than enjoying activities and exercise with friends.

F – Friendship. Brilliant friendships are formed through sport, particularly team games!

G – Guidelines. Knowing the general guidelines for food consumption for your child can help with portion control and understanding what nutrients the little ones need. Currently, the government recommends that a growing 1-6-year-old consumers 1300-1800 calories per day.

H – Healthy Eating. This one is a given, teaching your child what foods will make them tick will give them confidence and a positive approach towards food into adulthood.

I – Iron. An iron deficiency is common in young children. Ensuring they are having substantial iron intake will mean that your young ones have more energy and in turn perform better in sport.

J – Junk Foods. With small growing bodies, this is something to try and avoid. Everyone is guilty of giving their children some junk food, however it is important not to make this part of their daily routine.

K – Kids. Although it is important to do all we can to help our children, it is important to remember they are still KIDS! They will want chocolate, they will fall over and hurt themselves. But it is all character building.

L – Low levels of activity. Only 23% of girls age 5-7 meet the recommended activity levels in England (World Health Organisation). This sedentary lifestyle is mirrored by problems in nutrition and diet also.

M – Milk! No matter what some experts may say, it is good for the bones for growing children.

N – New skills. Just letting your child play and freely run around will help them to build new skills independently and with confidence.

O – Opportunities. Giving your child new opportunities will help them to explore what they enjoy, trying out a variety of activities is easy and as simple as sticking your favorite CD on and seeing how good your little ones dance moves are.

P – Posture. Exercise from a young age can help promote a good posture, hopefully combating injuries and pains later on in life.

Q – Quinoa. Not many words start with Q. Quinoa does. However, do not panic. You do not need to start feeding your children the ultimate health food just yet.

R – Running. The first motor skill your child tends to learn. Unless you have a mini David Beckham on your hands who may be kicking before he runs. Running is simple, just let your child do it until they run out of steam.

S – Stress. Relief your own stress by resting assured that your little one is healthy and active.

T – Time. Giving time to active experiences as a family such as walks or going to the local swimming pool is far more valuable than time spend in front of a screen for both your child’s health and your family life.

U – Under 5. Recommendations for young ones under 5 from the NHS state that they should not be inactive for long periods of time except when sleeping. Light activities include walking around and less energetic play. More energetic activities for under 5s include riding a bike, skipping and climbing.

V – Victory. Raising a young, fit and healthy child is the biggest victory for any parent. Be on your way to victory by starting today!

W – Whole family. Involving the whole family in an active lifestyle will be a driver to involve your children in sports.

X –  XXL. The clothing size you want to avoid buying for your children.

Y – Youth. After all, the youth of today are the future so helping them to be active and healthy is of upmost importance.

Z – Zooming. Exactly what you want to see your little ones doing. Here, there and everywhere.

The possibilities are endless in bringing your child a healthy, active lifestyle. Kick-start them in the right direction tody with our handy guide!

a recipe for confidence

As parents, helping our children to grow in confidence and be happy tends to come at the forefront of our lives. Giving your child the opportunity to participate and engage with sports could well be the key ingredient to do this.

Despite the positives of exercise on a child’s mental well-being being less known about than those that are physical, British Heart Foundation researchers detail that those children participating in regular activity present an increase confidence, peer acceptance and friendship and even attention span.

At a time where children have the chance to do whatever they may please at just the touch of the button, it is easy for them to become consumed in other pursuits such as using tablets and series watching. However, to promote the confidence of young people and in turn, increase the likelihood of them possessing this confidence into adolescence, sport seems to be the answer.

With a plethora of sporting opportunities available for children, there is certainly something for everyone. May your little one be a twinkle toes, a mini mover or a small swimmer, sport will teach them to grow in confidence, embrace challenges and present a boost in self-esteem.

Parents are quick to praise us on our ability to give children these chances to grow in confidence. We have put together the key ingredients to the confidence pie, something we want all of our children participating in sport to have a slice of.

  • Encouragement: Nothing will get your little ones beaming with a smile more than being told you are proud of them. Encouraging them to keep trying their best and supporting whatever they choose to do will no doubt turn them into a confident, risk taking individual.
  • New experiences: It can definitely be daunting going to a new place for the first time, even for us adults! However, the longer we put this off the harder it gets. Introducing children to new people and places from a young age will set them up for later challenges in their life such as starting school.
  • Team work: Team games help to teach young people how to work with others and share responsibility. Teaching the children to share and communicate with their teammates is one of the most important elements of our classes. Enforcing this from a young age means our children grow into kind, confident young adults and form blossoming friendships within their teams.
  • A sense of belonging: a part of being confident is feeling like those around you appreciate and support you. With increased self-esteem, our children will naturally fit into team settings, making them a great listener and giving them the capability to work well with others. Having a sense of belonging means children are likely to be less shy and nervous when facing new challenges.

Becoming confident in these environments can help children to develop friendships and bonds with others that will help them to grow and gain new social skills. Watching your little one grow in character, along with their new friends is enough to put a smile on any parent’s face. Introducing children to peers at a young age not only helps them understand others and grow in confidence but may also set them up with friends for life.

Confidence is something that needs to be acquired, not inherited, start today by widening your little one’s horizons and helping them discover new and exciting challenges.

Commenting Laura Erskine, spokes mum for said:

“As parents, we all want our children to grow up and become confident, resilient and happy people. There is no better way to foster confidence and improve self-esteem in children than through sport. And of course, the younger they start, the more they are likely to carry this love of sport through their primary and secondary education, helping them with much more than just their physical development. Physical exercise is vital for healthy mental development and coping skills, as well as those all-important motor planning and basic gross motor skills that are lacking in so many young children these days.”

Gift of the Girls

UEFA_Women's_Euro_logoAs The UEFA Women’s Euro rolls onto our TV screens this month, here at Soccer Days we believe that females are dominating the field with a fearless nature in one of the nations most loved sports.

With such a fantastic turnout of young girls at our classes, particularly at The Campion School on a Sunday, it is hard to believe there is such a vast gap between boys and girls in the game. However, with participation in the sport on a steep rise and girls all across the country presenting such speed, skill and resilience within the game, could we be about to see a repeat of history?

It may come as a surprise to be told that 100 years ago, women’s football was attracting crowds of over 50,000 spectators. Almost an unimaginable picture, the sport thrived in the working class community. A recent Channel 4 Documentary; ‘When Football Banned Women’ tells the story of Dick Kerr’s Ladies FC, a revolutionary group of women who could definitely give the likes of Ronaldo a run for his money. However the threat of women’s football on the men’s game lead to a disastrous decision by the FA; to ban women’s football, meaning it could only be played at an amateur level. A 50-year freeze on the game could be argued to have compromised football image in the present day. The women’s football drought lasting from 1921 – 71 is certainly not common knowledge but may tell us a lot about why the sport now struggles to fulfil the status it most certainly deserves.

Enormous efforts have recently been made to boost the appreciation and image surrounding women’s footballs. This year the FA have initiated a three-year ‘Game plan for Growth’ with Disney in hope to double participation and fans of the sport by 2020. The popular campaign, ‘This Girl Can’ continues its pioneering efforts to support girls across the country to pursue any dreams they have in any sport they wish, something we closely replicate at Soccer Days.

To bring you up to date with the current Women’s Euro competition, England are performing as brilliant as ever. With 2 wins in the group stages against Scotland and Spain – it is looking like qualifying to the quarterfinals is a certain. When the first Euro competition was played in 1984, England reached the final, as they also did in 2009. With role models such as Jill Scott playing for the team, it is hopeful they will score success in the competition this time round.

UEFA have issued the hashtag #WePlayStrong for this years competition, send us your photos of your girls doing what they do best and supporting their love for football!

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