Are you helping kids soar in sport?

For anyone who is a parent out there they will know from the minute your child is born, you get this instinctive desire to protect them no matter what. Remember the first time you drove your newborn home from the hospital? I am sure we were going no more than 40km/hr in 60km zones, driving as carefully as we could because we were worried about trying to protect our baby.

As my children have grown, I have tried to instil in them many values including “standing up for themselves”- a trait I still wrangle with particularly when targeted by “ alpha females” (but that is a whole other story).With my son not quite 13 yet, there have been quite a few battles where we have had to “emotionally guide” him, showing him an assertive way (not aggressive way) to stand up for himself. I am pretty sure however, even Steve Biddulph couldn’t prepare us for the ego’s and bias of some local sports administrators.

Being the cliché queen that I am, the saying “what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger” often gets used in my household. After all, things happen in life which help build the character trait of resilience. Nevertheless, it doesn’t stop my heart from slowly breaking each time I see what my children go through because of the decisions of some local sport administrators. The decisions are based on opinions with a warped bias (“clickiness”, pack mentality and/or lack of skill), rather than the facts.

If you are good enough to make it into a team or position…. then you should be in it. If you are not, what is it that you need to work on to get to be on that team? What are the tangible things you can work on to achieve your goals? If this can’t be answered, then the system is failing our kids. Look at what you need to change to make it more

inclusive and to encourage a better culture. Is it the policies, systems, staff and/or volunteers that need to be changed?

Don’t get me wrong, there are some very accomplished volunteers out there who have done some wonderful things in sport and I am in absolute awe of. I have however, deliberately refrained from becoming further involved in a couple of local junior sports associations after dealing with some very bias parents who are volunteering and “selecting teams”. Perhaps it is my policies background, but if you can’t come up with some useful constructive feedback as to why someone has or has not made a team (particularly when there are statistics to back it up), then you shouldn’t be the role in the first place! There are only two ways it will go for children in these environments, they will either give up the sport or become even more determined to succeed and “prove them wrong”.

The last few days I have been surrounded by world leaders in the sports industry and have heard the importance of keeping kids physically active and creating the right environments. When someone is more concerned about “ruffling feathers” as opposed to the true welfare of kids in sport, it’s time for them to rethink their roles in the community. Before you go saying. “But we are lucky to get people to volunteer”, in my experience there will be other people who will put their hand up (some perhaps better suited for the roles), if and when these toxic people are removed.

Without going into statistics and sport psychology research, it is easy to see the trends of informal sports or “pay as you play sports” (no volunteers involved) becoming more popular. This trend is often due to time constraints, but I wonder if politics (lack of inclusion) within various sports that has also deterred people from the traditional sports model.

In a world of decreasing physical activity it is more important than ever for sports administrators to encourage a culture that is welcoming, social and fun whilst helping nurture the talent and individual goals of ALL participants. There can be all the marketing in the world from Sport Australia, but it is at this grass root level where the power lies for people to “play a positive role” and create an environment that will make us active (in particularly children/teenagers) and more importantly…..keep us active!

Yvette Audet

Yvette Audet

Sport has been an integral part of my life, both work and personal. I grew up with sport, met my husband through sport and now as a mother, am involved more than ever in sport!

As a trainer and consultant in the industry I work with sporting groups and councils to create community facilities and partnerships aimed to increase sport participation.

I have created a range of articles from the perspective of a SPORTING MUM. The articles relate life skills and messages that we can get from being involved in sport. It’s uncanny how Sport can mirror life.


Involved in gymnastics, netball and athletics from an early age, Yvette experienced being part of a team as well as the unrelentless discipline in individual sport – in particular her Heptathlon days.

First became a mum in 2005 and remembers having the inner debate of how long should I play netball while pregnant? Doing quick breastfeeds in between netball games and hoping her uterus wouldn’t feel like falling out when she jumped for the ball.

Funny anecdotes aside, she has worked in the sport and recreation industry for almost 30 years and holds several certificates and degrees around the management and training of sport, community recreation, aquatics and fitness.

Through her various roles in profit and non-profit sectors, she has helped plan for programs, events and facilities to help get communities active through sport and recreation.