I have related my journey with my children through preschool & into school. Now I venture into their sporting endeavours. Junior sport is full of parents. Some are eager to pitch in & help, some are content to watch from the sidelines while others, it seems, are at pains to make the whole experience a nightmare for all involved. I have had my share of experiences with all of these & must say I would place myself in the first two categories at different times. The truth is junior sport cannot function effectively without the dedication of small number of parents with others willing to support in a number of ways. Depending on the sport I have either dived headlong in, as much as my knowledge or skill base & confidence would allow, or I waited in the wings to offer my little bit of assistance when & if it was called for.
There is no need for me to go into details here, but I am proud of the amount of time I have given to my kids' various endeavours. Of course I know of many individuals who contribute so much more than I do, physically, emotionally, time wise & financially. Nevertheless, I believe I have made an impact of the lives of a number of children because of my involvement in their sporting ventures.
About the same time my son began his football (soccer) career as my daughter began playing netball. Now I didn't know much about netball at the time, although I learnt as I went, but I helped out where I could. In the canteen, assisting with drills at practice, & even leading a cheer squad. There was no shortage of parents willing to have a go in the first couple of years of soccer, so I again settled for helping in small ways, such as setting up the ground or being a ground official on game day. As netball & soccer often clashed my wife & I decided we would take turns at each child's sport so that we could share in the thrills & spills of each equally. This was during the Winter months, but during Summer the kids started little athletics. I discovered myself drawn towards little athletic more then soccer or netball, perhaps because there seemed so much more to do. I began by helping out at the events while my kids competed. Once my son moved from tiny tots (3-4 year olds) to under 6s I volunteered as their age manager, meaning I supervised their entire night (they compete Friday nights) & usually ran each field event they competed in. I often had the care of 30 or so children between events, especially waiting for their turn at a track event. It was during these occasions that I began using strategies that belonged more to the 'teacher' tag than the 'parent' tag. Although this was a couple of years before I began studying.
Both soccers continued with my help from time to time, including a couple of very ordinary attempts at refereeing when the rostered referee failed to show. I may have been a terrible referee, but at least I had a go & the game was able to go ahead as a result. I continued in my role as age manager with my son's age group at little athletics. Each year the numbers dropped a little, but I became more & more attached to them as a group & as individuals. We have now been at little A's for 10 years & I have progressed to become a vice president of the club. I am so fond of all my kids they are like my own children in so many ways. This year they leave me as they join up with the older athletes & don't need me any more (although I think I still need them). I have however, put my hand up to go back to the tiny tots & help the new families settle in & show them the ropes.
In the meantime cricket emerged as an interest of my son (& daughter for one year). Each year a suitable dad volunteered to be coach, but I put my hand up to be assistant coach/manager. In all these endeavours I have drawn on my knowledge & experiences as a competitor in my own junior days. But what I think is more astounding is that I have come to realise that I developed some strategies to relate with the children that have become part of my teaching style. These may have in part been influenced by my parenting, but equally I believe they had a lasting effect on how I parent. So many different aspects of my life are intertwined & influence one another, that I can honestly say that I am a very different person to what I was 16 years ago when I got married, or 7 years ago when I went to university, or even last year. I guess what I'm trying to say is that every aspect of my life is influencing the father & teacher I am. I think that's a good thing. Lifelong learning is not just about professional development or personal growth. It's about how you adapt yourself to a changing world, becoming a better person for it.