Team sports are supposed to be about fair play, working together and having fun. Sadly, some parents and coaches forget about these goals in the race to win, win, win. The 4-year-old who hears parents yelling from the sidelines because he or she missed a shot is unlikely to stick with the sport and will then miss out on the benefits of exercise
Now, there is a new option to help children stay active in a non-competitive environment. Sportball Canada is a franchise organization offering various sport programs, including soccer and fitness groups, for children ages 16 months to 12 years. The focus is on helping young people develop both socially and physically through fun, non-competitive group activities.
Brian Jeffers, director of business development, says coaches put an emphasis on doing one’s best, whether or not that results in a win. For example, in one game kids will be asked to “race” the coach and beat him. But right after the race, the children must go to the coach and tell him “It’s okay, you tried your best!”
The co-ed programs revolve around eight sports (baseball, football, basketball, golf, hockey, soccer, tennis, volleyball) so kids can use different muscle groups. All classes are coached by trained and certified instructors, who ensure that each child progresses at his or her own pace. So, a kid who is having trouble with catching a ball, for example, will be given lots of opportunities to practice that skill. The goal is to make every child feel that he or she has accomplished something each session.
Participants are grouped by age with Sportball Junior geared towards little ones ages 16 months to 2 years old while Parent & Tot and Me and My Dad focuses on 2- to 4-year-olds. Jeffers notes that parents participate in these programs, playing alongside their kids. Children ages 4 to 10 can take part in a multisport program that includes tennis, baseball, basketball and golf. A new program called Sportball FitKids helps children 6-12 years old build strength and increase flexibility through various exercises and games.
This fall, Sportball is offering classes across Montreal, including the Ben Weider YM-YWHA, Lower Canada College, Centre Leonardo Da Vinci and LeClub West Island. (A full list is available at www.sportball.ca. Click on “Schedules & Registration.”)
However, the organization will work with any group who has access to an appropriate space to offer its services. All programs are about an hour long, and prices vary by location. The first class is free and, if a child starts several weeks into the program, the company will pro-rate the fee.
Sportball also offers adapted programs for children with special needs, including autism, Down Syndrome and those with visual or hearing impairments.
For more information, call (514) 331-3221 or visit www.sportball.ca