Supporting the kids

Both of my children are very coordinated, very strong and very fast. While my wife is an ex New Zealand gymnast who represented her country on the competitive stage and was classed as one of the best in her time, they obviously obtain all of these gifts of athleticism from their father.

Needless to say, there are times as a parent where we arrive at a point that will see us needed to provide support in whatever their sporting endeavours may be.


My son decided he wanted to play rugby league. Smallest kid in his team, loved running with the ball, nice little sidestep on him and in his first game, willing to tackle everyone #comeatme

But that was game one. Granted he loved running with the ball and loved darting out of dummy half and stepping his opponents, but he never tackled again and most of the time he was a little bit reluctant to get in amongst it, going in half-hearted when he did.

My wife and I made the decision to withdraw him for league as going into a tackle half-hearted (as the tackler or as the runner) was going to result in him getting hurt. The other kids are a lot bigger than him and he needed to really commit himself to those moments or something would give (that something would probably be him). But how do you teach this? How do you tell your son to have more heart? How do you tell your son that he needs to try harder, when he thinks he is giving it his all?


My son then decided to play soccer at school for his school sports gala’s. Lo and behold, his team made it to regionals, then to state finals.

Now to be honest, I know not one iota about Soccer. I’ve been a union man all my life and I understand that game inside out, but soccer to me was boring (especially at this level when it seems to take 30 minutes for the ball to get from one end of the field to the other). I supported him – I took days off work where required so I could travel to watch him play and I’m glad that I did as I would see him on the field in his uniform giving me a thumbs up and a grin and pointing me out to his friends “that’s my dad…he’s come to watch”. But again, he stands in the backfield, dancing around, not focussing on the game at hand (just stopping short of making daisy chains) on not really “giving his all”.

Once again, the question arises – how do I tell my son to try harder, when he thinks he is giving it 100%? How do you encourage “great”, when kids these days are happy with “good enough”.


My daughter wants to be Stephen Curry….she has no idea who Stephen Curry is (and to be honest, if he wasn’t such a superstar and the Golden State Warriors weren’t consistently winning, I’d have no idea either), but for some reason, she has decided that basketball is to be her sport of choice. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a small forward, a power forward or a shooting guard (quite terrible considering my cousin Pero Cameron is about to be the first NZer inducted into the FIBA hall of fame) , but my daughter was keen to be involved in dribbling that ball at breakneck speed up the court to casually lay the ball up and provide her team with 2 points at a time (I know Steph Curry is a 3-point god, but she is only 10 and I have every faith that she will get there). Since playing, she has been involved in a number of finals appearances with 2 gold medals to add to her collection…..and she loves it. She could lose a game and she’d still ask if we saw the basket that she scored or the time she dribbled down the court of performed some elaborate crossover….she loves it.

League – take 2

My son decided to give league another go. A discussion about his commitment and that he was going to put aside the moniker I had given him as “the half-pie kid” and give it his all. 3 years since his last foray into contact sports and he has developed a great deal – he has grown taller (and by taller, I mean he has sprouted a cm or 2), filled out a bit and has gained speed….a lot of speed (I actually have to try to beat him now when we race).

His coach had been fantastic, spotting his potential for growth and development and realising his areas required for improvement and ensuring additional diligence and coaching in those areas.

Support – the quiet parent kind

So many parents scream and start at their kids from the sideline or force them to do sports they don’t want to our play a style of game that doesn’t mesh with their personality. I was going to approach my support this way, but with Keian being teensy weensy, forcing him to play my beloved rugby union would probably have seen both trips to hospital and a child that hated me and the sport. As it is, I tried my hardest to keep my mouth shut when the first training session finished, let him realise himself that he really enjoyed it. I keep quiet when my daughter is talking passionately about basketball. I try to go to every game and support them and be there for them and then answer questions without trying to force my opinions or style.

Well…. Not too much, I’ll be taking Keian for additional tackling training in the off season and I’m sure I’ll be doing some sort of drills with Chickie and a basketball.

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