All You Need is a Ball…

All You Need is a Ball…

I have been involved in sport (in one way or another) since i was a child. And in Italy, soccer is not just a sport it’s also an obsession; woven so deeply into the fabric of our national psyche that it’s virtually indistinguishable from more existential issues.

But for me, the intrinsic value of participation in sport speaks to society as a whole. The crucial lessons that serve me in my adulthood were formed in my youth – playing a simple game with other kids. All of us unaware that the conflicts, challenges, and choices we faced in our formative years would transcend the dirt and grass fields where
we kicked a ball to the factories, workshops, and offices where we spend countless hours.

A ball is so basic…so fundamental. The shape. The way it rolls. How it bounces. Kicking or throwing it is intuitive. What are the chances that there is some greater value to be found inthat simplicity?

The leaders of tomorrow are being shaped and molded right here and now. The lessons we teach our youth will be with them for the rest of their lives — and there is no better place to teach children about the world than on the playing field. Training and competition teaches more than just how to win and lose, it teaches a person how to win with class and at the same time be gracious in defeat. It demands respect for your
opponent and teammates (your co-workers or partners), encourages teamwork and instills a willingness to work with others towards a common goal. All of these traits can be beneficial in the every aspect of life, not just on the field of play.

Today’s youth need inspiration and physical stimulation, and sport is a great way to encourage that. In this current “video game age”, kids would often rather stay inside staring at the TV — running their game console for hours on end — than go outside and play. They actually choose to stay inside and play video games as opposed to going
outside! This is a tragedy and should be addressed, or the future of America is looking rather bleak. Children are our most valuable resource and it’s incumbent on us to teach them what they need to know at a young age — before they venture out into the world.

The field of play is the ultimate classroom; teaching so many things that just can’t be easily learned anywhere else. People can talk about the need for kids to follow through, to stand in the face of adversity, to fight for what they want and never give up — but
those are lessons that truly cannot be learned until they are put into practice. Anyone can say they are going to see something through, but until they actually do it, it is just talk. Sport gives children a chance to work hard and achieve their goals.

And it doesn’t matter if the child is good at the sport — they don’t have to be a star to benefit from being on a team. The good players should play more than the bad. Period. If everyone plays equal amounts, no one will gain anything from the sport. The good players won’t be rewarded, and the less talented ones will gain a sense of entitlement — even though they didn’t work to get anything (and don’t deserve it either). The lesser players are role players, they may not start and may not play in every game, but that should only inspire them to work harder and improve. They have a role on the team and they must play it perfectly if the team is to succeed. This may mean they sacrifice personal glory for the greater good. It’s a lesson that is very hard for most to learn, but we all have to do it.

Those with an abundance of talent should play all the time and learn how to lead their team…how to gain the respect of their teammates…how to co-exist with their teammates in order to achieve a common goal. Kids who are not the best players learn as much as the standouts do. The star players learn how to be leaders, how to set a goal and meet that goal. They discover how to inspire those around them to greatness and lead their peers to new heights thought to be unreachable. The lesser players
learn a valuable lesson in commitment and perseverance. If a youngster wants to be a starter but isn’t really good enough, he needs to put in extra time and practice and work to improve. The lesser players may actually learn more about life and the real world than anyone else, they learn early on that there are no “free rides” and they will have to earn everything they get in this world.

Sport teaches so much more than what is seen at first glance. The physical benefits are obvious, as are the social benefits, such as learning to work with others and acceptance of those different from yourself. It allows for participants to find their role, change or adapt their role, and re-define who they are. It can give those who are involved a sense of self worth and accomplishment. Sport allows for team and individual success and failure. Young athletes learn something every time they step onto the field.

Playing sport does much more for our youth than just keep their bodies in shape and growing at a healthy rate, it helps them learn the ways of the world, the benefits of hard work and determination, and how to co-exist with others (even if you don’t particularly
like them) to reach a common goal. Those are qualities that are invaluable in the real world, and developing them at an early age can only increase the chances for success later in life.

All you need is a ball.



The Dragontree Spa

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