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It has been a while since we caught up with our patron Sue Palmer the distinguished author on child development in the modern world and literary specialist.
We found that Sue has been very busy north of the boarder in Scotland with her latest book Upstart.
Sue please can you tell us about your new book Upstart and the potential movement behind it?
It came out of the research for an update of Toxic Childhood I was working on in 2014. The more I learn about child development, the more concerned I’ve become about the steady disappearance of play from young children’s lives.
By ‘play’, I mean ‘active, outdoor, social, self-directed play’, the sort of thing children have engaged in for millennia, and which appears to be important for all sorts of developmental ‘must-haves’ (physical, social, emotional and cognitive). And by ‘young children’, I mean the under-sevens. Play is important at all ages, but particularly in these early formative years when children are developing their personalities and habits of behaviour.
Yet it’s now almost impossible for parents to ensure enough opportunities for young children to play out so I’ve come to the conclusion that the state will have to step in. Upstart argues the case for introducing a kindergarten stage for children between three and seven, based on the Nordic model, with an emphasis on all-round development (‘readiness for life’!), including lots of opportunities for outdoor play.
The evidence I found for changing our approach to early education seems to me so overwhelming that I got together with some like-minded friends and, in May last year, we launched a campaign called Upstart Scotland to try and get this sort of change up here north of the border.
How far are we behind the Nordic countries in terms of schooling and the need for early years play?
Our extremely early school starting age means that, culturally, we’re light years behind northern Europe in general, where there’s been a long tradition of kindergarten education. Parents in the UK countries have been reared to accept that it’s ‘normal’ for children to start school at four or five (in fact, it’s not at all normal — most countries start at six and many of the most educationally successful nations start at seven). So we simply don’t value play.
We may’ve got away with this in the past, when children were playing out around the edges of the school day, at weekends and in holidays. But as outdoor play has declined, we can no longer ignore the findings of developmental psychology and neuroscience. We MUST do something to reinstate this sort of ‘old-fashioned play’ at the heart of early childhood.
Your book Toxic Childhood, as well as your others has caused tremendous debate around the globe. What plans do you have for other books in the future?
Oh please, no more books! At least not for a while… Upstart Scotland is keeping me pretty busy and I want to spend some time actually doing something, rather than scribble-scribble-scribbling.
The NCFA are holding their annual National Children’s Football Week (NCFW) in July with the emphasis on PLAY. Do you think adults interfere too much in children’s play?
YES! We have to learn to back off and let children take more responsibility for their own actions and learning. How are they going to develop self-regulation and social skills if we’re constantly jumping in and organising them? And if they don’t develop self-regulation and social skills, it has a knock-on effect on long-term resilience and intrinsic motivation.
The NCFW is a free event but we are finding that many children are being priced out of sport clubs as their parents just can’t afford it. What are your views on this?
Why should children need sports clubs in order to play? They just need time, a safe space and the knowledge that there are adults on hand if they’re needed. That’s how kids have played through the ages. One of the aims of Upstart is to alert parents to this (to me fairly obvious fact) in the hope that they’ll find ways of reviving this informal approach to play — jumpers on the ground for goal posts, and all that!
Professional football clubs in England are now offering trials for 5 year olds. What your thoughts are on this?
I think it’s absolutely appalling — dreadfully bad for the children. And, in the long term, totally counter-productive for the football clubs. Imagine how socially and emotionally stunted the kids will be when they grow up…
Click on the link for more information about UPSTART SCOTLAND
The Peace Village are the custodians of one of the world’s most poignant football pitch. To play a game of football at Flanders Fields is more than a game. The whole experience contextualizes football way beyond the modern game’ Flanders Peace Pitch is the most level playing field you will every play on’, says, Matti Vandemeale, Director of The Peace Village’.
The Peace Village celebrated its 10th birthday this year. Can you summarise what have been the highlights in the last 10 years?
The first thing that was important was that we had to fill the ‘hostel’ with people coming over. Now we reach 20,000 people a year who come to visit the battlefields from across the world. Second thing we achieved was to create meaningful and interesting peace projects for our guests. We try to offer young and old visitors, projects, ceremonies, workshops and sports activities – including football, to help them making ‘peace’ more concrete. I am glad we reached the point of being more than just the best bed and breakfast in the region. We are also an active actor in making peace events and guiding people in the region. I’m also proud that we could translate the story of the Christmas truces into concrete projects e.g. the Global Peace Games, The Peace Field Project and International Day of Peace with the NCFA and partners.
What is the best part about your job and why?
The best part is for me when we can ‘help’ one of the young people visiting the region in giving him / her an experience with a lifelong memory of their visit. Sometimes we have ‘challenging’ groups of young and older people who may have special needs or come from difficult backgrounds and when we engage them in history, they contextualise their home lives with the incredible stories of the First World War, especially The Christmas Truces.
The Peace Village receives over 20,000 guests a year. What memories do you think they take back home and what kind of messages do they leave in the visitor’s book?
Mostly get positive feedback. We try to do our best in giving them the things they need and even more. The memories they take home are usually from the tour they did in the region. They general connect with the awesome amount of facts, stats and names, of soldiers that came from around the world to fight in The First World War can have a positive impact. We bespoke our programmes to meet the needs of many different communities and cultures. Things that may work for one person / group doesn’t necessarily work for another person / group. It’s the tour guiding in the region that makes us special. It is the excellent facilities that provide a relaxing trip. So, when they go home with a good feeling we here at The Peace Village are happy too.
The Peace Village and The NCFA continue to inspire young peacemakers for the future through the Peace Fields Projects, Global Peace Games and International Day of Peace. How difficult is it to generate funding for these projects and why is finding funding so difficult?
I believe in the kind of projects that we do with the NCFA. They are unique in terms of formal and informal learning. The problem is that we must conform to a tick box culture. Funding streams are regimental they are very difficult to adapt to with what we do here and funding streams do not consider the long-term sustainability of any one project in terms of development. They tend to be focused on a current elective government policy which hinders and sense of unity. The projects we achieve with The NCFA are cross-curricular based, they engage young people in football, sports and sportsmanship. In addition, the projects involve history, art, languages, citizenship, conflict resolution and debates on peace. Funders tend to be more myopic focused on individual projects. Our projects are a combination of elements, which can be viewed currently as a weakness rather than funders sharing the vision as a strength.
What would you like to see The Peace Village achieve in the next 10 years?
I hope we can reach more people with the educational and project work we are doing, I hope our collaboration in football and sports with the NCFA continues to make peace makers for the future and that we can find funding to work on a permanent base without everyday funding concerns. I hope we can play an active role in peace building across the world. So, projects where we make the link between WWI and conflicts and working with young people in solving these conflicts of today.
For more information about The Peace Village click on: http://www.peacevillage.be/
David Evennett, MP, Acting Minister for Sport, Heritage and Tourism, talks to the National Children’s Football Alliance about the Peace Fields Project (PFP) and the impact on the legacy of the First World War’s centenary years.
To support the Peace Fields Project, click here for more information on how to twin your school’s or club’s football pitch with Flanders Peace Field, site of the First World War, 1914, Christmas Truces
Yamam Nabeel – FC Unity – Founder and Chief Executive
“Shaab Stadium 19 December 17th 2008: Standing on the playing field of Iraq’s Sha’ab National Stadium surrounded by young people from all the different communities of the capital, I was once again filled with hope. A few months ago these young men would have put their lives at risk by simply taking part in this game with youngsters from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. On this day – they stood with me as one nation – united on the famous field that all young Iraqis dream of playing on.”
Q.Please can you introduce yourself to the NCFA? A brief profile; history, what do you do? Where do you work and why do you do it?
My name is Yamam Nabeel, I am the founder of FC UNITY. I was born in Iraq and moved to Europe at the age of 4 when my family went into exile, my father was an outspoken critic of the Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. I grew up in Hungary, where I started playing football at youth level. We moved to the UK in 1992, where I completed my A-levels and attended university. I worked as a television producer until 2003 when I interviewed the former German coach of the Iraq National football team Bernd Stange. We became friends and I organised The Goodwill UK Tour of the Iraq Team in May 2004. Organising the tour became a full-time job and at the end of it I created FC Unity. FC Unity provides a platform for education and development through large-scale football events organised by a diverse group of locals. It helps people overcome barriers and learn to work together. It brings together the private and public sectors together with the communities in order to empower locals and create healthier communities.
Q. What or who is your biggest inspiration and why?
My father, who spent his life fighting for freedom and liberty of Iraqis, taught me to always be guided by strong principles. He is still very much my guide and mentor.
Q. Where and how did the concept for the FC Unity come about – why is the organisation not funded by professional football in Britain?
FC UNITY was born after the success of the Goodiwll UK Tour of the Iraq national team and it came about with the support of Sven Goran Eriksson. Our first large-scale event was the UNITY Cup London, which was launched in 2007 and became an annual fixture for 7 years. The main concept was a community football tournament organised by a diverse group of young Londoners. It bring London’s various communities together through a series of football events based in the capital organise, managed and hosted by young people. Having dealt with the professional side of football and experienced their agenda, we did not see fit to even attempt to fund FC Unity through them.
Q. Can you briefly explain the kind of organisation FC Unity?
FC UNITY is a social enterprise, it isa limited company with an internal mission of re-investing any profits back into projects. It’s aim is to create local events, for local people, empowering, developing and employing locals. To date we have hosted programmes in the UK and Iraqi primarily but also in Sudan, Ghana, Somalia and Djibouti.
Q. Why do feel the National and International Children’s Football Alliance is a good partnership with FC Unity?
WE share the same ethos of grass-roots football and it’s power to be a platform for education and development and as a great uniter of people. The Children’s Football Alliance works with local communities and for local communities which is rare these days of “ticking-the-right-boxes” culture. The Alliance works to achieve tangible results and we believe that a partnership will strengthen both organisations and help empower more communities globally.
Q. How will the Peace Fields Project support your work and where will it be applied?
FC UNITY’s main remit in Iraq is to provide a platform for conflict resolution and help build peace through the next generations. The Peace Fields will provide a long-term organised programmes for young Iraqis to take ownership and help create national unity.
Q. Who are FC Unity’s main participants and how do they benefit?
FC UNITY is an inclusive organisation, it about people, from all backgrounds. Primarily our target participants are young people, men and women from the ages of 16. Our aim in the UK is to engage with and empower and bring together minority communities with mainstream British society.
Q. What has been FC Unity’s biggest success story to date?
Our proudest moment was the TeamIraq – Unity Cup festival in Iraq in May 2009, which was month-long festival with finals over 2 days in Baghdad’s Sh’aab (national) statidum, with over 5,000 young Iraqis coming together.
We are also very proud of the 7-year run of the UNITY Cup London, which was never funded (apart from the 2010 event) and provided an opportunity for young Londoners to come together and celebrate diversity.
For more information click on FC Unity
Q.Please can you introduce yourself to the NCFA? A brief profile; history, what do you do? Where do you work and why do you do it?
My name is Tim Jahnigen and I am the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at the One World Play Project. But really, I often say that I’m “more idiot than savant!” I’ve always been artistic and creative. Before I started this company with my wife, Lisa, who is our Chief Giving Officer, we had another startup based on a breakthrough medical technology I came up with and before, during and still do, I am blessed to be a lyricist with collaborators many places including NY, LA, Nashville and the UK.
Our main offices are in Berkeley CA, where I live but I travel a lot and we have field offices in Africa and Asia.
We are privileged to do what we do because we feel that we have created a simple solution to many of the complex problems that children around the world face on a daily basis.
Q. What or who is your biggest inspiration and why?
I am inspired by so many different things and people it’s almost impossible to name them all, but really, and sincerely, my biggest inspiration comes from children of the world who live in the most challenging places through no fault of their own followed by the people who work with them through the power of play organized under the idea known as Sport for Peace and Development.
But one name stands out for me in this context, and that is the great Arthur Wharton, England’s first professional black footballer. He was so far ahead of his time in terms of skill, personal character and for using his celebrity and extraordinary athleticism to serve humanity in times of crisis and need. In fact, he set the bar so high, it is unlikely that one can find anyone today who has given so much and in so many ways.
Q. Where and how did the concept for the One World Futbol come about – why is the organisation now called One World Play Project?
The One World Futbol was inspired by a heartbreaking news piece about the plight of traumatized children in places like Durfur and other war zones and learning that the unique and universal ability unstructured play has to help children and adults heal and recover their humanity.
Though the ball itself ended up becoming the first fundamental change in ball design and technology in almost a thousand years, and while it is a regulation Size 5 and weight for football, it is meant more than just one sport. It is for any form of play that children might want to use it for. We’ve also discovered the broader and ultimately more powerful impact that play itself, in all its forms, has in all human development and the need for other durable balls and products that serve our biological needs in this area, we realized that being called the One World Futbol Project was simply too limited in scope and that we needed to embrace and promote the fuller spectrum of play by including it in our name.
Q. Can you briefly explain the kind of organisation OWPP is?
Well, once the ball and it’s unique technology was sorted, we needed to decide how best to structure our venture. After months of research and evaluation we discovered a new concept that was a beautiful blend of social impact and agile entrepreneurialism called B Corporations. B Corps subscribe to what is known as the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit. It is a rapidly growing global business movement that uses business as a force for good and to show that you can do well and do good at the same time.
To that end, among many other innovations we represent, we are an early adopter of the Buy One Give One business model where for every ball purchased one is donated to an organization or community somewhere in a war zone, refugee camp, disaster area or one of the 80 known UN hotspots around the world.
Q. Why do feel the National and International Children’s Football Alliance is a good fit with OWPP?
To me, the National and International Children’s Football Alliance are a premier example of Sport for Peace and Development at it’s best and it is simply one of our greatest privileges to support it’s vitally important work by giving it footballs that are so durable that they allow the organization to focus on it’s mission, message and programs rather than having to constantly replace balls.
Q. How will the Peace Poppy Ball help the Peace Fields Project?
Our goal is provide a durable tool and delivery system for not just history, but knowledge and wisdom, as well as leaving a lasting symbol of the unimaginable sacrifices made on the hallowed ground of Flanders Fields. It seems that a partnership between One World Play Project the I/NCFA and the Peace Fields brings together all the elements of the Contextualization Process that the NCFA are known for: Space, Time and Place.
Q. How has the world of professional football received the peace poppy ball?
Maybe that question will be best answered by history a few years from now.
Q. How many footballs have been distributed and to which countries?
We are proud that through our Buy One Give One model and our pioneering development of marketing sponsorships, beginning with our founding sponsor, Chevrolet, we’ve been able to deliver just over 1.5 million One World Futbols through approximately 50,000 different NGO’s, non-profits and various other aid organizations in approximately 175 countries to just over 45 million children and adults.
For more information on ONE WORLD PLAY PROJECT
Black football heroes have been celebrated in a unique new book with contributions by students from Sandwell College. The very first book to celebrate the enormous contribution made by black footballers to the English game over the past 125 years was launched at The Hawthorns, home of West Bromwich Albion FC, with a special signing by trailblazing legends Cyrille Regis and Brendan Batson. Sixth form and photography students scoured their parents’ and grandparents’ attics, ebay and antique shops for memorabilia to contribute to the book and researched player profiles as part of their workgroup tasks.
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Black Football Heritage Book has been compiled by Jim Cadman and features original photographs, statistics, memorabilia and illustrations. Among the football pioneers featured are Arthur Wharton, who became the world’s first black professional player when he signed for Rotherham United in 1889, and West Bromwich Albion icons Laurie Cunningham, Brendon Batson and Cyrille Regis.
Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, has written the foreword to the book and the first copy to be printed has been sent to the Center for Civil and Human Rights in the US city of Atlanta, at the request of Martin Luther King III.
Jim Cadman said: “The book examines the heritage created by over 50 individual black footballers, many of whom ignored racism on the terraces and became role models and mentors for future generations. We hope that it will encourage and stimulate readers to look further into the careers and achievements of these remarkable players.
“The students got valuable skills from this project and they learned what it was like to be a team player.
“The showcase in Atlanta is a big step from this contribution by Sandwell College students.”
The Black Football Heritage book is being distributed free of charge to schools, academies, libraries, community groups, youth groups, football clubs at grass roots level and voluntary organisations throughout the country.
For more information on please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Interview with Jim Cadman
Q. When did you first have the idea for the book – what was you primary influence?
JC. The book was inspired by the 125th anniversary of Arthur Wharton signing for Rotherham Town in 1889 to become the world’s first Black professional footballer and realising that it had taken 90 years before Cyrille Regis, Brendon Batson and Laurie Cunningham had provided the motivation for young black players to become professional footballers. In addition there is an enormous gap in the market for this type of book.
Q. In your speech at the launch you mentioned that the book would raise more questions than give answers, was that your intention and why?
JC. The biographies of the players are short and compact and we want to encourage people to research the deeper background for themselves.
Q. How important was it to have students of Sandwell College involved in the book and why?
JC. This is a quote from Steve Powell, Sandwell College’ Vice Principal ” Sandwell College is extremely proud to have been involved in the production of the Black Football Heritage book . It is a project which has captured the enthusiasm of both students and staff, which has both helped promote and celebrate the diversity of our college and the community .The project has enabled our students to develop employability skills in developing writing skills, photographic abilities, illustration and design and interviewing skills. Our students can justifiably feel proud about the contribution they have made in producing a book of such high quality
Q. What was the lowest point for you personally in the project and what was the highest point in the project?
JC. No low points but the positive reaction from the Professional Footballers Association, The Football Association, Lord Ouseley at Kick it Out and Martin Luther King III has be very rewarding.
Q. To what extent do you feel The Black Football Heritage book can inspire young people?
JC. The book has already inspired readers and students to look at their own heritage and link it with the plight of black footballers. We have encouraged them to talk with parents and grand parents to create an inter generational understanding. There are many examples of individuals in the book who have provided inspiration.
Q. Why do you think it’s taken over a hundred years to acknowledge black footballers in the form of a book?
JC. I am at a loss to understand but let us hope that this will in a small way provide a spring board for more focus in this area and convert the rhetoric into action.
JC. Present day footballers are featured in the book including Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck from Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino, who is currently the leading English goalscorer in the Premier League.
Q. In your opinion do think the custodians clearly get it in terms of black footballers heritage in the English game?
JC. This situation is improving as the FA recently unveiled a statue of Arthur Wharton, who will also be honoured with a statue outside Rotherham United FC created by Graham Ibbeson, the sculptor behind the statues of Eric Morecambe, Dickie Bird. Graham is also currently working on the Celebration Statue, a permanent tribute to iconic West Brom players Laurie Cunningham, Cyrille Regis and Brendon Batson which will be unveiled in West Bromwich town centre in spring 2015
Q. Can you tell us how important you feel the timing of this book is in terms of all matters equality in football and institutional racism in the sport?
JC. The timing is pertinent as the global game is still plagued by racism. Only this week CSKA Moscow played Manchester City behind closed doors following racist chanting by their fans.
Q. In the light of the Premier League and the win at all costs culture that the professional game continues to court, do you feel that The Black Football Heritage Book resonates more with people up against the odds, if so why?
JC. I hope that the book will appeal to all sectors of society, though of course the stories of the players featured will resonate with people who have suffered racism during their lives, whether they were born in Britain or have moved here from overseas.
To order your FREE single copy email: email@example.com
Schools, charities and not for profit organisations place your FREE order by emailing the NCFA: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Both sides singing…My orders to the Coy. [Company]…are not to start firing unless the Germans do”. Captain A.S Bates, commanding No 4 Company, 1/5th London Regiment (4th Division), France, 24 December 1914.
100 years ago this December guns fell silent on the Western Front during the Christmas Truce of 1914. Soldiers from both sides exchanged seasonal greetings, songs and gifts, while some participated in games of football on “no man’s land”. Such gestures of humanity amidst the chaos and carnage of the battlefield serve to highlight the brutality of war and the sacrifice made by so many. This centenary year, a number of events are taking place up and down the country to fittingly commemorate this milestone in history.
Last week Maidstone United’s Gallagher stadium played host to a Football and Peace day organised by the National Children’s Football Alliance. As the MP for Maidstone and in my role as Minister for Sport and the minister leading the Government’s First World War commemorations, I was honoured to be a part of this initiative. Pupils from five schools across Kent were joined by students from Germany to partake in friendly games of football and cricket, among others.
Kent students have also been researching the local impact of the war and the role of sport in war and peace, thanks to a £32,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Their work was exhibited on the day and it was fascinating to learn more about Kent’s contribution to the Great War.
Football and Peace day perfectly embodies our focus for the centenary on remembrance, education and youth. It’s vital that this generation appreciates the sacrifice made by so many men and women, a sacrifice that has shaped the world we live in. The peace we enjoy today is perhaps taken for granted, but for soldiers on the frontline that Christmas 1914, it was but a momentary reprieve.
Click on the link below to view the Football & Peace Film featuring an interview with the Minister for Sport.
*** COPYRIGHT KENT MESSENGER GROUP FOR THE USE OF The National Children’s Football Alliance USE ONLY ON THEIR WEB SITE REMAINS THE COPYRIGHT OF THE KMG AT ALL TIMES 01622 794667
Mick Gale (MG) is a classic example of all that is good in football. NCFA Directer, Ernie Brennan first met Mick on one of the first FA Module 3 age appropriate courses, in Kent, England. ‘Mick left an impression on me which very few people do. I can only describe him as the Salt of the Earth with a knowledge and understanding of the game, second to none’. Ernie Brennan. The NCFA sent Mick a number of quick fire questions – here are his on target answers.
Q. Please can you introduce yourself to the NCFA? A brief profile; history, what do you do? Where do you work and why do you do it?
MG. Born in Surrey,UK. Played professionally, coached on all 5 continents, teacher trained. Currently National development Centre (NDC) in Canada with the best elite youngsters, boys and girls. Why do I do it…… I still love the game.
Q. Can you discuss to what degree is football/soccer part of the fabric of children’s sport in Canada?
MG. Football in Canada is not only the fastest growing sport but its participants are more than ice hockey and basketball combined. The girls game has been well established for some years and they are amongst the leaders on the world stage. It’s a newer sport for the boys and each school now has soccer pitches which wasn’t the case 10 years ago , and has become part of the national curriculum.
Q. What are the major issues in children’s / youth football in Canada? Do they compare with UK? If so, to what degree and if not, why do you think there is a difference?
MG. Geographically Canada is the world’s largest country and children from rural areas suffer because of the distances required to travel. Kids can start 3v3 age 5 and progress through minis /recreational/developmental to elite levels. Although numbers are not as great as UK, we have seen qualifications for world cups over the last few years. Due to the extreme cold over the long winters, the oputdoor season is very short. Indoor centres are now coming on line creating far more opportunities.
Q. In your experience how complicated has the game of football become? Is it the same game you started coaching in your younger days? What are the similarities and what are now the differences?
MG. Basically it is still the same game. When I was a kid it was all about fitness and enthuisiasm. Now, however, with sport scientists it’s more about correct technique as well as tactical awareness, psychology, nutrition and prevention of injury. A few years ago I knew everything in the coaching world! With the advent of therapists and scientists I now know far less and need to continually re-educate to stay on top of the game.
Q. To what extent does Canadian Football / Soccer integrate on a social inclusion level in the community and on a national scale?
MG. Social inclusion in Canada is country wide as they are brought up in such a multicultural society it means all kids are given equal opportunities to participate from local through provincial to national levels.
Q. Do you feel as strongly about football now as you maybe did as a child? If so why and if no, why not?
MG. Yes , more strongly now. It was great fun as a kid and has become an all consuming passion as I’ve learnt more.
Q. In your opinion, how significant to football is the 1914 Christmas Truce?
MG. Greatly significant in Canada. WW1 is history taught in schools and the Christmas truce for football is the highlight. In contrast to the UK where few kids have even heard of the truce.
Q. Can you tell the National Children’s Football Alliance why you think it is important that children learn about the Christmas Truce and Why?
MG. Nowadays everybody should know about the Christmas truce. It was an event that stopped the conflict and provided sport as a unifier. What an example of how to overcome political differences. The Canadians have a far greater respect for such matters and are ‘more English than the English’.
by Laura Dutton
This is me
I’m 31 years old – Mum to Matthew, aged 9 and we live just outside of Chester – over the border into North Wales. I work full time in the marketing department at MoneySupermarket.com and started blogging at as ‘British Soccer Mom’ in October, 2012 as a commentary to my hours spent standing on the sideline watching my son play football! My life has always revolved around football as I was taken to watch Chester City FC. by my Dad at the age of 9 and have been going ever since! I met Matthew’s Dad on the terraces at Chester and now our son plays for the club’s youth academy which the family is hugely proud of!
Parenting; I have wanted to start a blog for a while now but I was struggling to find a topic that wasn’t simply parent blogging for the sake of it! I wanted to have a useful, worthwhile message to my writing and my inspiration came after seeing the enthusiasm of the country after the London Olympics. I combined my own personal love of sports with my strong belief that children should be leading a healthy, active lifestyle and created my ‘British Soccer Mom’ persona which is a parody of how I see myself and my dedication to watching my son play the game!
When I started my blog I wanted to make connections with parents who have children involved in sport so we could swap ideas, tips and advice. I’ve found some great places to hang out, in particular SportsMums.co.uk and through my @britsoccermom Twitter account, I have connected with parents, organisations and individuals who promote and believe in the same issues as me – healthy lifestyles for our children, vital sports funding, positive role models and grassroots football. I’ve had a brilliant response with my articles being re-tweeted and published across the web. My article about ‘Defibrillators on Sports Fields’ was re-tweeted by Fabrice Muamba and I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing ex England player Ray Wilkins, who said he loved my blog!
Glad to be of service
I blog about a whole variety of topics themed around sports. Some have a serious message that I’m keen to promote, like my article on Defibrillators. Some are informative and useful like my article on fundraising and some are humorous like my ‘10 tips on how to be the Perfect Soccer Mom’ – and I always like to throw a some Soccer Mom fashion tips in there too! I’m not a company trying to push a corporate message to make a business, nor am I a personal blogger that rambles on aimlessly! I like to highlight sporting issues that concern children and open them up for discussion on my blog where anyone is welcome to comment.
Solution Solution Solution
Leading an active lifestyle is a habit that needs to be practiced at a very early age and as adults we need to ensure that this activity is enjoyable for our children. How many people do you speak to who shudder when asked about their school PE lessons? Many people recall military style PE teachers and humiliation as they struggled to ‘hop, skip and jump’ in front of the rest of the class. Children should be grouped according to ability as they are in the academic subjects and bought on at their own pace before they make the association between exercise and humiliation. I believe the national curriculum should introduce and hour of constructive, enjoyable exercise every day as it’s become clear that many parents can’t be relied on to encourage an active lifestyle at home with nearly a third of primary school children now considered obese.
To encourage parents to take an active approach to their child’s health. As parents it’s our job to open doors for our children in regards finding out what sporting activities are available to them in their local area. If your son or daughter is no good at kicking a ball, they might be brilliant at climbing a rope, balancing on a beam or throwing some great dance moves! Find out what your child enjoys doing and try and hook them up to a club where they’ll enjoy weekly training sessions and reap the benefits from being part of a team. Our children can’t initiate this themselves so we need to be the active ones and push them to realise their potential.
If you would like to contact Laura about this article please email