The boys have a pas­sion for some­thing healthy and pos­i­tive

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Best Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

eek­end team sport is a rit­ual for count­less chil­dren across Aus­tralia, but keep­ing that fo­cus in the teenage years is vi­tal to com­bat­ing stress and giv­ing teens a pos­i­tive fo­cus.

How­ever, in Aus­tralia sport par­tic­i­pa­tion starts to drop off about 12 years of age, when com­pe­ti­tions heat up and per­for­mance be­comes as im­por­tant as good sports­man­ship.

The Aus­tralian Sports Com­mis­sion’s an­nual AusPlay sur­vey of sports par­tic­i­pa­tion found it peaks for kids aged 9-11, when 87 per cent of kids play, but drops 10 per cent by ages 12-14. This drops to 53 per cent by 15-17 and is at just 28 per cent by 18 years of age.

There are sev­eral rea­sons for this: sport be­com­ing too com­pet­i­tive is one, as is body im­age, es­pe­cially for teenage girls. But the most com­mon is time, no­tably in later teen years when many take on part-time jobs and study in­ten­si­fies.

How­ever, youth men­tal health ser­vice Reach Out’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Jono Ni­cholas says par­ents shouldn’t en­cour­age teenagers to drop sport in favour of study, as sport is an im­por­tant tool to help counter the stress of school. “I hear par­ents say they’ll have to give up sport to fo­cus more on study and that’s the wrong mes­sage to send, they should be able to have a bal­anced life and sport is a big part of do­ing that,” he says. Lach­lan Bro wn­scombe and Will Cameron at En­deav­our Sports High in Car­ing­bah. Pic­ture: Jonathan Ng Amanda Cameron says her son Will, 12, has al­ways been ac­tive — play­ing soc­cer, rugby league and touch footy, as well as swim­ming and ath­let­ics. But the Year 7 stu­dent at En­deav­our Sports High in Car­ing­bah has set his sights on be­com­ing an Aus­tralian crick­eter. She says: “Will has al­ways been ac­tive and into play­ing sports, and I think it’s fan­tas­tic for him to be in­volved in team sports in par­tic­u­lar. It’s great to see your son have that ca­ma­raderie with his team­mates that I think you can only get from a team sports en­vi­ron­ment.

But as a par­ent I think the most im­por­tant thing, par­tic­u­larly as they en­ter the teenage years, is to see them have a pas­sion for some­thing healthy and pos­i­tive and not have that idle time on their hands.

Play­ing team sports also gives him heaps of con­fi­dence and just pure en­joy­ment.

Will has played cricket since he was in Year 3 and in Year 5 he made the NSW Pri­mary Schools Sports As­so­ci­a­tion squad for Syd­ney East. Dur­ing those tri­als he was no­ticed by cricket coach for En­deav­our Sports High, Tim Laws, who iden­ti­fied him as hav­ing some good skills in cricket.

This year he started at En­deav­our and is in the tar­geted cricket pro­gram, where he has made some great friends, in­clud­ing his team­mate Lach­lan Brown­scombe. They train after school on Tues­days and Thurs­days. They also have a first XI and sec­ond XI squad where they play cricket against teams from other sports high schools.

I re­ally love how team sports have brought out Will’s com­pet­i­tive side be­cause it shows just how de­ter­mined he can be. That is some­thing that will hope­fully drive him in things other than sports as well.

Will still plays club soc­cer for Grays Point, he’s a great lit­tle mid­fielder. But to be hon­est, his goal is to one day play cricket for Aus­tralia.

He would like to be able to forge a ca­reer from his cricket.”

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