So your kids have shown an interest in playing sport. But which one do you choose for them? We are lucky in South-East Queensland and northern New South Wales to have the right kind of weather to enjoy outdoor sport as well as such a vibrant and diverse sporting community. To help you sort through the options, haven has spoken to five key sporting organisations for their take on what makes their sport the best and most rewarding choice for your kids.
With 1.9 million children riding a bike in Australia, cycling is definitely a popular past time among our kids. According to Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Sara Carrigan, instilling a love of bike riding is important at a young age, with 56 per cent of children under 9 and 75 per cent of children under 15 enjoying their first experience on a bike. Sara is so intent on sharing her love of cycling with our youth that she offers her own cycling skills workshops, building confidence in a friendly, fun and safe environment for all levels of cycling ability – from total beginners to the more experienced. She says haven readers can also take part in free educational cycle workshops, family social rides, beginner lessons and more via Gold Coast City Council.
“The beautiful thing about cycling is that there are many simple pleasures and benefits from pedalling a ‘pushie’,” Sara says. “Cycling can be a great way to get a load off your mind and de-stress, and it can be one of the very best ways to start the day feeling productive – enjoying a relaxing ride by yourself or with a group of friends, engaging in a good old chinwag on the bike or at the coffee shop afterwards.
“I love road cycling for its freedom. I love that I can ride wherever and whenever I choose. I can pedal through mountains or alongside the beach, suck in the fresh air, enjoy the beauty of the breathtaking views and relish in the feel of being at one with nature. Just pure beauty.”
Tell us a little bit about how you started in your sport?
I first learnt to ride when I was 6 years old on my little ‘red rocket’ that was given to me for Christmas. I still remember learning the art of balance and the joy of being able to ride for the very first time. However, it wasn’t until I was 15 that I was first introduced to cycling at school when the local cycling club came to test students for potential. I didn’t make the cut on the first round but eventually was one of 15 students chosen and was given a road bike for 10 weeks to discover and enjoy the wonders of road cycling. I had no idea what a road bike was or that the entire world of cycling existed but from that moment I absolutely loved it – and I haven’t looked back!
In your opinion, why is it important for kids to play sport, in general?
Junior sport participation has many benefits including contributing to health and wellness by providing increased activity levels and helping to build a positive self-image. Being involved in sport also offers a range of social benefits such as:
- developing life skills (eg: communication, concentration, commitment)
- learning responsibility and discipline
- learning how to work with others in group environments
- learning to cope with success and failure
- developing a sense of community, loyalty and cohesion.
What makes your sport the perfect choice for juniors?
Teaching a child to cycle empowers them and gives them freedom, independence and adventure! In giving your child the skill of being able to ride, is giving them a skill for life. In fact, riding a bike has often been cited as one of the universal skills for life, along with reading and swimming. Riding a bike is a fun activity that everyone in the family can enjoy and a great way to explore the local community. Through the bicycle, a child’s world is opened up to a world of fun and enjoyment!
What skills or talent does a child need to be successful in your sport?
In the first instance, all that is required is to simply enjoy riding a bike and it can all develop form there!
Do you believe kids need to start your sport by a certain age to achieve at an elite level? What is the perfect age for a child to start in your sport and why?
No, that is the great thing about cycling! There have been successful cyclists that have started at different ages. There have been World and Olympic Champions in their 40s as well as in their 20s. The advantage of riding at an earlier age is that generally the younger we are, the quicker we learn to be skillful on a bike.
Do you have any tips for keeping kids motivated to participate in any chosen sport?
Do it for fun! Don’t get too serious too early on. Sadly, I see so many kids that get burnt out because of over training and they lose the fun in the reason why they took up the sport in the first place.
If there’s an adult newcomer who is interested in starting in your sport, what advice do you have for them?
Learn skills first because this will give you confidence; when you feel confident you will feel safe. Ultimately, if you feel skilled, confident and safe, you will enjoy riding your bike all that much more! From a safety point of view, you owe it to yourself, you owe it to the others you may ride with and you owe it to those with whom you share the road to be a better bike handler, to have better skills, and to ride with confidence.
Who are some of the most famous local exports in your sport and what level of achievement have they reached in their careers?
Robbie McEwen was a Tour de France stage winner and green jersey winner.