Whether you’re a parent looking to inspire your youngsters to take up a sport, or you’re a coach in your community eager to encourage more kids to join the local team – teaching kids to love being active and to develop their talents is essential for their growth. In different countries, kids have different opportunities, so many look to the West for professional sponsorships, sports camps, and dedicated college programs to advance in their athletic pursuits.
In recent years, the US has become the favorite pick for youngsters around the world for their selection of clubs, training opportunities, as well as sports-related academic scholarships. To help young, aspiring athletes break through various barriers, however, it takes even more effort – and here’s how coaches, parents, and educational institutions are teaming up to do just that.
Combining sports with other degrees
Not every child will end up wearing a famous NBA uniform, no matter their talent or effort. Being an athlete means competing against a global pool of talent and one that is fierce and constantly growing. It’s up to their teachers and parents (as well as coaches, to which we’ll get shortly) to steer them towards complementary degrees and fields they in which they can become successful, too.
For example, the Harvard Crossover into Business program is extremely helpful for professional athletes, and it adds a whole new dimension to the idea of sports. This allows young athletes not to get discouraged from playing their favorite sport despite not always being able to make their dream team. It gives them a creative opportunity to enrich their education and still stay in the field they love the most.
Promoting global opportunities
If young athletes stay within the confines of their neighborhood, they will hardly ever be able to succeed as professionals. Add to that, there are many talented kids who cannot afford taking up expensive training opportunities and coaches to help them perfect their skills and get recruited early enough.
This is where international organizations help by rewarding outstanding academic and athletic performance with scholarships. Various programs such as the EDU SPORTS scholarship in the USA have attracted hundreds of young athletes and helped them reach their potential. This enables young, hard-working athletes to discover opportunities beyond the borders of their own countries of origin and join renowned teams they would otherwise never be able to play for.
Advanced coaching programs
Coaches have a unique presence in their teams’ lives, and as such, they can have an impact on the road they take and the choices they end up making even after they leave school. They need to be able to provide practical advice and guidance for kids, and that calls for smarter coaching programs, too.
Specialized education programs for coaches should aim to improve their own skills in the sport of their choice, but also go beyond the sport and add more pedagogical value to their approach. Across the world, different schools are trying to improve their coaching systems and help kids master skills beyond the sport, such as time management, focus, and learning from failure.
Presenting role-models in sports
Whether your kids love football, or they are basketball fans, you know that they’ll be much more eager to take up a science course or a business class if they discover that some of their favorite public figures have done the same. Telling stories about famous athletes and inviting them to speak at local schools for Q&As can help kids learn about the reality of leading an athlete’s life and learning that there’s so much more to it than sports alone.
For example, Michael Jordan has a degree in geography, while Shaq has earned a PhD in education – talk about some of the world’s greatest NBA names taking on a broader challenge. Share their stories, as well as stories of other athletes, and kids will no longer see them as one-dimensional public figures, but rather understand the great value of education and pursuing their dreams.
Getting kids from impoverished backgrounds to take up sports, inviting shy athletes to unravel their potential, and inspiring kids to build a life of health and success – it takes team work on a global scale. As more scholarship programs, educational institutions, and famous athletes join to spread the word, kids everywhere are slowly reaping the rewards. Hopefully, the future will bring even more collaborative international efforts that will bring sports into the classroom, and help kids expand their skills beyond the playing field.