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Game, set, match!

Posted 6 July 2021

Fans of sport rejoice - we're in for an incredible fortnight! With the finals of Wimbledon and Euro 2020 (come on England!) alongside the British Grand Prix and the Lions tour, there promises to be a lot of excitement and entertainment coming our way. Bring. It .On. There's even the bonus of homegrown talent.

But what about our foster children? Does a disadvantaged start in life preclude them from reaching their full potential in a sport or hobby? Not according to tennis' world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. In fact, we believe all children can enjoy playing sport and whether they excel or not, the benefits are almost endless. Game, set, match to sport.

After his recent victory over Denis Kudla, current Wimbledon favourite Novak Djokovic remained on court for his socially-distanced post-match interview. When asked what gave him the edge to keep going in the face of Kudla's impressive performance, the Serbian answered that his upbringing had played a big part. Growing up during the 1990's in what was then war-torn Yugoslavia, he recalled his family had to fight for the basics and that failure was not an option. Novak's tough start in life eventually ended up benefitting his game, that and wolves.

We're not suggesting giving your foster child a harder time at home to make them a better person. Our point is that no matter what a child's background looks like, they can succeed. They may even be able to channel any determination, tenacity and resilience learned along the way into something positive. And you can help them do it.

Ok, at this point we'll acknowledge that not every child is into sport. It may indeed seem easier to split the atom than to separate your charge from sofa or screen. The effort is worth it though, so whether they end up favouring football, music, baking or train-spotting, the positives of extracurricular activities will be there. We're going to keep focussed on sport for now though, because it seems rather seasonal.

Firstly and probably most obviously, there is a physical benefit to playing sport. Encouraging your child to be active can help stave off obesity now and also set them up for a future less likely to include type-two diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. Exercise can also move the brain to produce more feel-good chemicals like dopamine, which in turn reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

The benefits of a foster child playing sport aren't just physical though. Initially, it may be the first time they've ever had the chance to take part in something 'regular' kids do, which alone is a massive thing. It may also give them an hour to simply feel grounded and forget their troubles. Sport can be far more than a distraction though. So much of real life is played out on a pitch or court.

From competition and teamwork to victory, loss, discipline, friendship and conflict resolution, sport provides an arena where life skills can be learned and practised safely, but purposefully.

Self esteem can also be found in sport. So often foster children struggle with anxiety, shyness and feeling useless. The achievement of finding a hidden ability or mastering a new skill, however small, can do wonders for a child's self esteem and confidence. Your encouragement can help that happen!

It doesn't really matter if your foster child turns out to be the next Emma Raducanu or not. Although Britain does always need more sporting stars. The value of encouraging a child to take part in sport is found far more in their individual development. It is a fantastic way for us to nurture our children and help them grow, which is a pretty big part of fostering.

If you have any questions or any sporting success stories, please contact us as we'd love to hear from you. Anyone for tennis?