When I was younger I was never really a fan of sports. Episodes of bullying, issues with self-esteem and a family life that wasn’t active in the slightest encouraged me to shy away from netball, athletics, football and other forms of exercise and as a result, it only exacerbated my low self-confidence and ability to connect with my peers. I turned into a young woman who was ashamed of her body image and attempted to cover myself up at every opportunity.
Over the years I’ve been conquering this life-long insecurity and now, I feel like I’m in a place where I am comfortable with who I am. I’ve had three children, with two enormous pregnancies that has transformed my body into a shape that I no-longer recognise, yet overall I am okay with this and have made peace with my anxiety.
Now I face bringing up my children to potentially face the same issues as I did. I worry, particularly for my daughter – that she will fall victim to the ugly side of life as a young woman – the need to look a certain way and to be a certain size and shape. The only way that I can envision helping her to make healthy choices for both her body and her mind, is to gently nurture an interest in sport – an interest that I never had. I don’t mean that I’m going to force her. There are limits and lines that we cannot cross as parents but I don’t see anything wrong in advocating an active lifestyle as something positive.
Sport has been such a prominent feature recently in our lives. We sat tentatively on the edge of our seats as we cheered along with the rest of the country for the 2012 Olympic Games. The Paralympics was just as inspiring and demonstrated that anyone can achieve something wonderful with the right dedication. This year we have had the UEFA Women’s Champions League and currently the UEFA Women’s Euro 2013 - women proving that they are just as good and as capable as men on the pitch. These men and women are the at the extreme end of health and fitness but many of them stand as ideal role models for generations of young people.
Whether they inspire a love of gymnastics, a thirst for swimming or merely the desire to get outside and play a game of football it would be so very beneficial. More importantly, they can show my daughter that beauty, size and the admiration of men, are not the most important things to strive for in life. But strength, confidence and individuality can enable you to be a much more rounded and independent person.
Why not encourage your children to get out more and be active. The Soccer Store UK have a range of football nets in varying sizes that could kick start a love of sport. You never know, you may have a budding footballer on your hands!