Sportsmanship First builds upon the natural care that children have for one another’s wellbeing. It seeks to build on this by making it easier and more natural for them to do by giving them ways to show encouragement or concern before, during and after competition. This makes all feel better about taking part, and equips them to use competition as a spur for improving their personal performance, and through this their wider wellbeing. By making participation more enjoyable this approach will increase the numbers of children who take part and who stay healthy, fit and active as a result.
Sportsmanship First is based upon an inclusive approach to competition as a way of building the personal and emotional resilience of children. Whilst it is natural for schools and clubs to want to field the individuals and teams best places to win competitions, they also need to inspire more children to want to compete for a place on the team. In not very much time, higher levels of participation will increase competition for places and the success achieved. These longer term foundations for success depend upon leaders in schools and clubs adopting inclusive approaches that actively engage participants of all abilities. They also support the school in its wider social responsibility to equip as many of their children as possible with the social and personal health, wellbeing and resilience to fulfil their potential.
Sportsmanship First wants to ensure that politicians and other social and community leaders understand the inspirational power and social value that coaches of ‘under-teams’ represent. Most individual and team sport played by children happens in green, outdoor spaces. Most adults describing their happiest memories of childhood will describe activities that involve play that was outdoors in the fresh air. Being fit and confident to outdoor play and sport helps to connect the people in communities to each other and to the places that they live in positive ways that live on well beyond the moment. The foundations of this approach are not expensive, but they do depend upon the availability of two things. Approaches like Sportsmanship First that make participation in any type of sport or game more positive, and the availability of open space in the local community that give children and parents the opportunity to make these connections.