Lots of parents wonder whether or not sport can really be inclusive. The short answer is – yes, it can! This of course depends on a variety of factors but there are lots of options for all-inclusive sports for children, you just have to get out there and look for them. While ultra-competitive leagues may not be as inclusive as they should be, there are lots of clubs that make sure to include everyone and focus on having fun and developing skills while making new friends and creating new memories.
What is sports inclusion?
When people talk about sports being ‘inclusive’, it means sports that have proactive behaviours, options and actions to make children from all ages, backgrounds and abilities feel welcome and respected within a team. Inclusion in sport means a stronger focus on making sure every child gets playing time, having fun and growing as a person instead of just winning trophies. Inclusive sports focus on enjoyment.
How can sports be inclusive?
Every child should have the opportunity to be actively involved in a sport of their choice, no matter their athletic ability. As we’ve seen demonstrated in the Paralympics and more, people with various backgrounds can be pretty incredible at many different types of sports! Inclusive sports should not leave a child feeling isolated for any reason whatsoever. This is why it’s so important to work with a club that focuses on inclusion and making sure every child gets a chance to play.
The sad reality is that there are still times that sports won’t be inclusive to all which is unacceptable and needs addressing by wider society. Sports and clubs all over the UK are missing out on potential teammates due to barriers being put in place, children feeling excluded or a general unawareness of how to include everyone. Participation rates in sport for children with disabilities is significantly lower than the rest of children. The good news is that attitudes and practices are changing, and clubs are working hard to include everyone.
Benefits of inclusion
Organisations and clubs should be inclusive because it’s the right thing to do. But there are many more benefits to taking on an inclusive approach! Lots of children who feel excluded by sport will never get the chance to showcase their ability and grow as an athlete. When children find clubs that include everyone, they can blossom into the player they always wanted to be. Inclusive clubs also help children grow in confidence, make friends and get some exercise each week. A win for everybody!
Find an inclusive club
When signing your children up for a sport, make sure you do your homework and find an inclusive club that offers a non-competitive environment and places the emphasis on enjoyment, fitness and social interaction. The Little Foxes club offers a wide variety of sports to children and we pride ourselves on our inclusive approach. We currently offer a wide variety of lessons including tennis, football, rugby and multi-sports. Our goal is for play to be varied and for children to have fun – an absolute must when signing your child up for a sport.
Adapting sports to include everyone
No matter the sport, our coaches can adapt it in a way that’s sure to include everyone. There’s lots of guidance out there from leading health bodies explaining how sports can be inclusive for all. Depending on the children playing, coaches should have the experience needed to adapt each game to include everyone. Good coaches will know how to keep the integrity of the game intact while making sure everyone gets a chance to play. They should also involve participants in decision making to make sure no one feels excluded.
Inclusive sport for all
Sport can and should be enjoyed by every child. If your child is interested in playing a sport, find an inclusive club that makes sure everyone is included. They may turn out to be quite the athlete in the long run! As attitudes and perceptions towards sport continue to change, there are more opportunities for children to enjoy the thrill of sport than ever before. Steer away from ultra-competitive clubs and instead find clubs that focus on personal growth and fun. You won’t regret it!