The boys have a passion for something healthy and positive
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.”