If your child is interested in sport, then one of the best experiences you can provide them with is to attend a major sporting event, particularly if this gives them the opportunity to see, or even meet, their sporting heroes in person. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of today’s top sports people were inspired to compete to become the best by seeing and/or meeting their own heroes when they were still children, often at the same sporting events they’d go on to win as adults. For example, current world number two men’s tennis player Andy Murray drew encouragement from being taken to Davis Cup tennis matches by his mother when he was a child, while Laura Trott was inspired to her own Olympic success in 2016, in part, by meeting gold-medal winner Bradley Wiggins twelve years earlier, and there are many other similar examples too.
However, most people assume that attending major sporting events are beyond their reach, and while this may be true for events like the World Cup or the Olympics, such sporting events come in all shapes and sizes, and some are even free! For example, spectating road cycling events, such as the Tour of Britain, is free, as is watching long-distance running events, such as the Great North Run or the London Marathon. Events for less mainstream sports will also be more affordable, and often children can attend at discounted rates. These include sports such as gymnastics, athletics and martial arts.
However, it may be that your child is particularly keen on a sport that is more expensive to attend, such as football, rugby, or my own personal favourite, tennis. Here, you have to balance the benefit to your child against how much it will cost to attend. Some of these will be one-off events that you are unlikely to be able to attend again, and in these cases, you’ll find the boost it gives your child well worth the cost in terms of time and money. In addition, you can always off-set the costs by buying them tickets for more expensive events as a birthday and/or Christmas present. This has the added benefit that it encourages them to think of presents as experiences rather than solely as being about material things.
If purchasing tickets for a particular event that your child is keen to attend is simply beyond your budget, then you shouldn’t let this stop you because there are often others ways to be able to participate. For example, most major events, sporting or otherwise, require an army of volunteers to be able to run successfully, and while there may be lower age limits, many will accept older children as volunteers. Being a ball kid at a tennis match is a prime example of this. Becoming a volunteer means that your child can not only attend the event for free, but they will often have access to all that’s going on behind the scenes, and as well as mixing with others with similar sporting interests, they’ll have a better chance of actually meeting their heroes in person.
Of course, you should only take your child along to such an event (or encourage them to volunteer) if it is one they’ll actually enjoy (rather than one you hope they’ll enjoy because it is your preferred sport!), so it is important that you talk to your child to find out what type of thing they would enjoy going to see before making any plans. Once you have a sport in mind, then you can set about searching for a suitable event that is within your budget and your travel constraints, and looking for opportunities for your child to volunteer to help keep costs down. It may take some time to find one, but when you do, make sure you seize the opportunity and get tickets as soon as possible to ensure that your child, and you, don’t miss out.
About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.