8 Surprising Ways Playing Football Can Benefit Children
Football means many different things to many different people, but for most children, playing footie is a fun hobby that allows them to let off some steam and have a bit of fun with their friends.
But while playing football is mainly about the enjoyment factor for kids, it also offers a wealth of physical, mental and social benefits. Whether it’s playing for a team and taking it more seriously, or just having a kick-about on the local park with their pals, here are eight reasons why we should try to encourage our children to play football.
Remember the days when you could run around the park or football field for what felt like hours at a time without so much as breaking a sweat? These days you’d be lucky to clock more than ten minutes before doubling over with a stitch!
Well, it turns out all that running around was helping keep us fit as regular participation in sports like football promotes cardiovascular health, muscular strength and flexibility. These activities help children maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity, forcing them to burn off the calories from all those sweets and fizzy drinks!
As well as the physical benefits playing football can provide, it’s also great for a child’s mental wellbeing as exercise releases endorphins in the brain which acts as a natural stress reliever.
Sadly, this is a psychological pick-me-up many children need, as research suggests that mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in minors are on the rise. So anything that can provide mental stimulation and help shield children from these issues should be promoted, and playing not just football but any sports is proven to do just that.
Another way football can boost a child’s mental health is the wonders it can do for their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Being part of a team, contributing towards victories and overcoming challenges can provide a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Football is all about teamwork, working together as a unit to achieve a common goal – or goals, if they’re good enough!
When playing football, children learn to communicate, collaborate and coordinate with their teammates to problem solve and achieve their aim. These are invaluable life lessons that’ll help to instil character for years to come.
When children play in team sports, it provides ample opportunities for them to make friends. In fact, the shared sense of achievement and camaraderie enjoyed by children in a team sports setting is known to create some of the strongest bonds and longest-lasting friendships.
Gets Them Out
Let’s face it, these days children spend a lot of time in front of screens. Not only does this harm their social skills and prevent them from forming real-world relationships, but research suggests it’s also bad for their health.
Indeed, studies have shown that children who spend more than two hours a day playing computer games or using a smart phone are more likely to experience emotional, social and attention problems.
Playing team sports helps discourage them from spending their days indoors participating in unhealthy pastimes. It also teaches them that there’s a fun, exciting world beyond their electrical devices!
Sportsmanship & Fair Play
Okay, so football might not be the first sport that springs to mind whenever you hear the words ‘sportsmanship’ and ‘fair play’. After all, images of many of the game’s biggest superstars diving are etched into pretty much every football fan’s memory by now.
But playing at grassroots level is a completely different ball game. Coaches and referees routinely encourage children to play fair and sportsmanship is heavily promoted, which again serves as an invaluable lesson for young kids.
Assuming you want your child to play for a team, this will come with commitments and schedules as they’ll need to turn up to training and attend match days. They’ll also need to clean their boots and their kits and football training tops will need to be washed and ready.
Discipline and time management are crucial lessons any child will benefit from and these skills will serve them well for the rest of their lives.
So those are the additional benefits your child will get from playing football. As well as keeping fit and providing mental stimulation, it’ll also help them make friends and provide a sense of belonging.
As touched on already, your child doesn’t have to play for a team to enjoy many of these benefits. While it would probably benefit them more playing in a team, even a regular kick-about on the field will provide many advantages.