Sport helps children develop as citizens

Positive sporting experiences can play an important role in a child's development, it has been found. Jean Cote, Head of the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Canada - established in 1841 - identified the main conditions for having such sporting experiences are a cohesive team environment, enjoyable and challenging activities and an assessment of a person's own display, as opposed to being compared to others.

Dr Cote noted there is a lot more to physical activities than winning, losing and developing skills, stating: "Under the right conditions, youth sport can help children develop transferrable personal and social skills-citizenship qualities that they'll retain throughout their lives."

It was demonstrated that motivation and initiative were fostered in environments where coaches sought to improve a young person's own benchmarks rather than pitting them against others.

Dr Cote also found kids between the age of nine and 19 associated positive experiences with managers who created an inclusive team environment in which the group also met up for activities outside of sport.

Professor Stuart Biddle from Loughborough University, a Chartered Psychologist, says:

"There has been a long history of sport and physical activity being ‘good’ for young people. Often this extends into ‘life skills’ and can probably best be summed up in terms of ‘pro-social’ behaviours, such as cooperation or respect, and ‘inter-personal’ skills, such as self-motivation, concentration. But these will not be developed automatically. It is better if they are promoted in sport contexts – hence they are best taught - not just caught.

"A good example is The Golf Foundation who promote playing skills of golf but also 'skills for life'."