I'm a bit late blogging about this, but as you're probably aware it was Sports Relief Day on Friday.
I have banged on tediously before about the need for kids to become engaged in sport, which sadly doesn't happen at all at the schools my offspring attend. Indeed, no 1 is depressingly replicating both mine and Spouse's experience of sport at school. If you are crap, as Spouse and I were, and she is, you get swiftly demoralised as no one is very interested in your achievements.
I have been working very very hard to counter this negativity. Since I did the marathon three years ago, the girls have all taken a keen interest in running - no 1 like me is slow and steady but she does possess stamina, so I am dragging both her and no 2 out onto the downs again for this summer's Race for Life. We three are all also planning to do the Swimathon in April. No 1 is keen on swimming, so while I could stop her swimming lessons now on the basis she is perfectly safe and able, I am keeping them going for a bit longer, just so she gets some exercise she enjoys. I have also got her enrolled at our local gym where, hallelujah, some bright spark has had the wit to put on a programme for 11-14s. She loves it and can go at her own pace, and not feel as she normally does in school that she is bottom of the class. On top of that, there's tennis, which was my sport growing up, and looks like it's going to be hers too.
I have tried to drum in to all of them the importance of exercise for its own sake. I do agree that sport should be competitive (something sadly missing from my childrens' sport experience), but I also think that just because most of us are never going to be champions that shouldn't preclude us from making sport an essential and enjoyable part of our lives.
Since doing the marathon, which I can honestly say is something I never ever thought I could do, I have joined a triathlon club. Although I have always been a keen swimmer, I was never taught how to do it properly, and my technique sucked. Two years ago I went along as a novice and learnt crawl from scratch. I spent eighteen months in what is laughingly known as the baby lane at the club, where the brilliant coach, broke down the stroke, and built itup again, till I eventually graduated from the baby lane last summer, and can now swim 1500m crawl (not fast, true, but I can do it) without any problems.
I mention all this, because over the last three years I've discovered something about myself and my ablities to improve my fitness and stamina and technique in ways I could never have imagined before, and I wish someone had let me in on the secret earlier.
Which is why I was delighted that the school nos2 & 3 attend put on a Sport's Relief event on Friday. It was supposed to be a mile but the weather was crap so they held it indoors (less said about that the better - every hint of rain and they get them indoors.Elf and Safety insists, just in case someone slips and hurts themselves. My lot were out running round the tennis club in the pouring rain on Thursday to no harm whatsoever. Grrr!!!!).
I was pretty cross about this at first, as I had given up my afternoon to marshall, and I thought the event would turn out to be a damp squib. But hats off to the brilliantly energetic woman who organised it, each class got a fifteen minute, very vigorous work out, which they thoroughly enjoyed. It was such fun, myself and several other mums joined in. I had been swimming in the morning, but found myself able to keep up, though I was flagging by the end of the third session and my muscles still feel achy even today.
The great thing about it was though, was that ALL the kids enjoyed it and were engaged. You could see even the plumper less athletic ones really going hell for leather. It was fantastic, and just what sport in schools should be about (which isn't too say they shouldn't do organised games like football etc), because it is the first time in the eight years since no 1 started school that I have actually seen kids doing sporty stuff and really enjoying it.
So hats off to Sport's Relief, which is a good cause anyway, but is also I think on the quiet providing a really really good means for children everywhere to get the feeling for once that sport really can include them...