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Game On: Fostering Family Connection through Sports

Updated: Sep 23, 2023



Introduction: Building Family Bonds through Sports

In our family, sports and exercise were more than just activities; they were integral parts of our daily routine. These shared experiences shaped our family's unique rhythm, fostering bonds and creating lifelong memories. They were a source of health, teamwork, and most importantly, fun.


Football: The Family Favourite

Our compound transformed into a lively football field every Sunday, becoming an epicentre of joy, laughter, and family competition. Football reigned as the queen of sports in our household. Our children, encouraged by my husband, often played barefoot, a cherished tradition and a way of getting in touch with Mother Nature. It was only when the children had brand new boots that they would insist on wearing them.


Our four children teamed up against their father, creating a spectacle of exciting and energetic matches every Sunday. These matches, filled with playful rivalry and an atmosphere rich in affection and camaraderie, were a cherished tradition. On occasion, I joined the game, and my lack of football skills became a source of shared laughter. Neither side — the children's nor my husband's — wanted me on their team, adding to the playful narrative of our family football days. Our compound, being the largest in the area, also attracted the neighbourhood children. However, Sunday remained exclusively a family football day.


Exploring Physical Sports: A Mixed Bag of Success

Our home hosted a variety of other physical sports equipment. The range of table games was comprehensive, including a ping-pong table, a football (Foosball) table, a billiards table, and a pool table. Ball-related sports amenities such as a basketball hoop and a volleyball net were also part of our gear, as were skateboards, rollerblades, a stationary bike, a bench press with weights, swings, and ropes. Our martial arts gear featured sparring gloves and a punching bag, and of course, the children's cherished bicycles were always ready for a ride.


Not all sports equipment was created equal in our home. The football table was the clear favourite, warranting a replacement when damaged. Its appeal was unchallenged, serving as the centre of many lively games and challenges. In contrast, the dartboard hung mostly unused, a silent testament to a game that did not quite find its footing in our home. Similarly, the ping-pong table, billiards table, and pool table had their moments but never quite reached the same level of affection as the football table.


Exploring Board Games and Digital Entertainment: Everlasting Excitement

We also had a host of board games such as chess, snakes and ladders, and Monopoly, each contributing to our family's tapestry of entertainment. The details of these games will be discussed in another post. But the star of the show in our household were the gaming devices. The children had all the popular handheld gaming devices of the time, including the PlayStation Portable, Nintendo GameBoy, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo DS, and Wii. These devices caused an everlasting excitement that only increased with each new version, creation, or release.


The variety of sports and games we explored was a mixed bag of success. Some became family favourites, while others merely adorned our home. Yet, each piece, whether well-loved or barely touched, added texture to our home, providing avenues for play, learning, and bonding.


Reaping the Rewards: The Many Benefits of Family Sports Time

The benefits of incorporating sports into our daily routine were manifold. First and foremost, the spirit of competitiveness was ignited in our children, fuelling their desire to improve and excel. This competitive spirit extended beyond the playing field, instilling in them a drive to strive for excellence in other aspects of their lives.


Regular physical activity not only ensured good health, but it also increased appetites, contributing to balanced nutrition. Engaging in sports limited screen time, helping our children to be more present and engaged with the world around them. It also stimulated the mind, encouraged them to be more analytical, a skill that later catalysed an interest in computing. The diversity of sports and games also fostered creativity. In their quest to improve their games, they could sometimes dismantle the equipment and try to put it back together, a testament to their innovative spirits.


Sports also nurtured empathy. Witnessing their siblings or friends lose in a game, they learned the importance of comforting and supporting each other in times of disappointment. This not only enhanced their emotional intelligence but also strengthened the bonds of our family and their friendships.


The shared experiences of playing together facilitated restful sleep. The day's exertions naturally led to tiredness, making bedtime a breeze and ensuring a good night's sleep. Lastly, being involved in various sports and games nurtured ambition in our children. They were not just playing; they were also envisioning what they could become. This curiosity and ambition extended beyond sports, influencing other areas of their interests and future dreams.


Family sports time was not just about fun and games. It was a multifaceted learning experience that had far-reaching benefits for our children's physical health, mental development, and emotional well-being.



Challenging Gender Stereotypes about What Sports Girls and Boys Can or Cannot Engage In

I mention challenging stereotypes separately from other benefits of family sports because of the unique role the family, as the first site of socialisation, has in defining identities. This might even extend to potentially creating gender-less children, although that is a topic for another post.


Allow me to illustrate with an example: one of my daughters, having played football right from the start, never considered it to be a sport solely for boys or men. During her high school years, she was a part of the girls' football team. I quote my daughter's response to my blog post on the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup (for more):


"The Women's FIFA World Cup... It was disheartening to observe that it did not hold the same prestige as the Men's league, especially since football was the sport I enjoyed and played most as a young African girl, with my father and peers. I weathered comments, primarily from men, suggesting that women could not reach the same heights in the sport as men could. But now, I find myself engrossed in what I deem to be one of the finest FIFA tournaments in terms of tactics, sportsmanship, and international representation. This tournament serves as an inspiration to little girls and to my younger self, showcasing that it could have been any one of us playing at such a level."


By providing opportunities for our children to engage in a variety of sports, regardless of traditional gender norms, we foster a home environment that promotes equality and broadens their perception of what is possible.


Drawbacks? Not in Our Experience

From my perspective, there were no significant drawbacks to incorporating sports into our family routine. Yes, some games were more popular than others, and there were occasional disagreements over scores or minor injuries, but these were trivial issues in the grand scheme of things.


However, it is worth noting that some families may encounter potential challenges. One such challenge could be the risk of more serious injuries from high-impact sports. While we were fortunate to have only minor incidents, it is important to ensure safety measures are in place, especially when children are involved in more physically demanding or competitive sports.


In our case, these drawbacks were minimal or non-existent. The benefits of an active lifestyle, the joy of shared experiences, and the life skills our children gained far outweighed any potential downsides. In fact, I firmly believe that the advantages of family sports time extend well beyond the immediate, offering lasting impacts that our children will carry into their adult lives.


Concluding Reflections: The Lasting Impact of Family Sports Time

Looking back, I can say without a doubt that our family's emphasis on sports has had a lasting positive impact. It has fostered a sense of camaraderie, instilled a love for physical activity, and created countless memories. As parents, we need to find ways to connect with our children. For us, sports provided the perfect avenue. I hope our story inspires you to create your own family traditions.


Join the Conversation!

I would love to hear about your experiences with sports in your family life.

1. Have you found it beneficial?

2. What sports does your family enjoy?


Share your stories and insights in the comments below. Let's celebrate the joy of family sports together!


Remember to share this post with your friends and family on social media. Let's create a community of active, sports-loving families!



About the Author

Nite Tanzarn is an Independent International Consultant and a staunch advocate for 'Gender Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity: Championing the Balance'. As a mother, Nite understands the complexities of raising children in a balanced, healthy environment. Drawing from her personal experiences, she provides insightful tips and strategies to assist other parents on their journey. This blog is part of her reflection on the joys and challenges of parenting.

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5 Comments


Guest
Nov 05, 2023

Sports can be a great way to bring families together and promote bonding while having fun

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Guest
Oct 18, 2023

sports is very important for the overall wellbeing of children,

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Oct 18, 2023
Replying to

Absolutely, sports serve as a fantastic avenue for enhancing not only the physical wellbeing of children but also their mental and emotional health. The teamwork, discipline, and resilience learned on the field can be invaluable life lessons. Moreover, sports can be a bonding experience for families, creating memories and fostering a sense of unity.

Cheers,

Nite,

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest #GESI #HealthyLiving #FamilySports #FamilyTraditions #FamilyFun

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nsabimana canisius
nsabimana canisius
Sep 04, 2023

I always football with my children both boys and girls

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Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
Sep 04, 2023
Replying to

Hi Canisius,

Playing football with your children, regardless of their gender, not only fosters a sense of unity but also breaks down gender barriers in sports from a young age. Your approach is a great example of how sports can be a powerful tool for family bonding and instilling values of equality and inclusion.

Cheers,

Nite 🌟📝

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