Sport is a huge part of our culture. Ask any child in Australia who their hero is, and chances are the answer will be a sports person. While it is great to be active both for health, and for the sheer fun of it, not all have the means, or perhaps the desire, to access organized sporting fixtures.

I believe neglecting to involve your children in physical activity both by providing opportunities for it, and by example, is something close to criminal.  However, it is not essential to commit to hours of training, much expenditure, endless driving to games and every weekend taken up until they leave home; there are alternatives.

If your child has the opportunity to participate in meaningful physical labour, whether that be farm work, chopping wood, yard work etc, they may not feel the need or inclination for sport. That’s fine!

Likewise, some families will not have those regular outdoor work opportunities, and need to make time to allow their children to be physically active. Some family sport options include:

  • Walking – it’s something that the whole family can participate in, offers great opportunities to talk, it’s free, needs no special uniform, and forms a habit your children will hopefully continue for life.
  • Swimming – free if you have a creek or river nearby (and your climate permits!) this can provide hours of fun activity for your children. Otherwise hit the local pool before or after Dad’s work time, and swim as a family.
  • Cycling – not quite so user friendly if you have very little members of the family, although some courageous souls do add carriers to their bikes.
  • Bush walking – nothing like combining Phys Ed with Nature Study! Pack a picnic, first aid kit, the camera and heaps of water and discover the beauty of God’s creation while you make your heart pump! (for the wee ones, adventure stores sell great baby/toddler carriers)
  • Camping – the ultimate combination of all of the above! Of all the promotion you hear of the team building skills gained in sports – nothing beats having to assemble a tent in the rain, or worse, the baking heat of the day, to give opportunity to learn team work. In fact, everything about camping involves team work, and if a strong family identity and cohesiveness is what you are aiming for, few things can bring that about like camping.
  • Play with friends – have some friends over and involve them in an impromptu game of cricket, or kick a ball around.
  • Local playgrounds – great for littlies to burn energy, develop coordination, learn to take turns, all without the pressure that is associated with structured sport, and a bonus if enjoyed with friends.

So while organized teams sports have their place, if you are not prepared to make the commitment in time, or do not have the available resources, there are many ways to give your children a healthy interest in physical activities, which will be a blessing to them for life.