17 Jul 2018

Letting kids be kids on the sports field

From Afternoons, 1:29 pm on 17 July 2018

Sports at school isn't quite like it used to be - if you're good, it's not just a game on Saturday morning. 

There's coaching, clinics and competitions to attend, alongside school work and getting a good night's sleep. 

Now sport stars are calling for less pressure and more fun for kids who love sport. 

Black Fern Selica Winiata tells Afternoons' Jesse Mulligan that's what helped her develop her skills. 

New Zealand's full-back Selica Winiata.

New Zealand's full-back Selica Winiata. Photo: AFP

“When I was young you used to get out, have some fun, playing alongside ... mates, other kids, and just giving things a go.

"There were no limits, and I guess being able to play these backyard games has taught me different things, not just being competitive and wanting to win but just around communication, developing life skills that you don’t really need on a sports field or court but just in general day-to-day life."

She says it's about making sure kids are simply encouraged to get out and be kids and not put so much pressure on them. 

"Wanting them to be the best at such a young age, they’ve got so much development and growth to do that the time will come when they’ll choose the right sport that they want to play and put everything into it. 

"If we try and get our young primary school kids wanting to be high performance athletes at such a young age, I think we’re just going about it the wrong way."

She says the pressure means kids are starting to burn out and take less interest in playing any kind of sport at all. 

“Sportspeople in general that have made it to the top, some of them didn’t start playing that particular sport until they were older in life anyway, it’s just making sure that you’ve got that balance right. 

"That we actually still allow them to be a kid and allow them to grow up."