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“Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.” Jesse Owens, track and field athlete and Olympic Gold medalist.

Chatting about sport is often a shared interest throughout the UK, and in playgrounds and parks across the nation actually picking up a ball or some other sports equipment proves to be a valuable icebreaker and team building option.

Getting involved in community and school sporting activities has certainly been a great way for children and young adults to develop social skills and make new friends; something that’s been true for hundreds of years!

Why is something as partisan and competitive as sports such a fertile ground for developing new friendships?

Global interest and involvement

One of the reasons sporting activity brings people together like nothing else can, is that most types of sports are played in the same way, anywhere in the world. That makes it easy and comfortable to slot right into a new team or join in an informal football kickaround for example.

Language doesn’t need to be a barrier when you can let your feet do the talking, or pick up bat, racket or club and get right into the fun of cricket, tennis or golf.

Also, watching and participating in international sports competitions has the power to unite countries in a unique and important way. This culminates in the amazing Olympics and Para-Olympics that draw an audience of over three billion people across the planet.

To give that global and universal love of sport some context, there are 240 million registered football players in the world, and the fan base is believed to be in the billions. Now imagine how many local football teams and players there are globally, and how many children and adults kick balls around local parks and playgrounds!

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And yes, jumpers are still being used as goal posts the world over!

Action can speak louder than words

The above point leads on to the reasons why community sports for children and adults make such a great counterbalance to increasing social isolation.

Getting involved in sports outdoors or indoors, in formal training sessions or impromptu gatherings, is just good old fashioned fun, and a great way to get fit. You can pretend to be your sporting hero for awhile, or just challenge yourself to perfect a new skill.

Sports can be a brilliant way of involving all children – and adults – in fun, physical challenge and friendship building, whether they are in a wheelchair, have sensory impairment, struggle in the classroom or come from troubled or socially-deprived backgrounds.

Once involved in a sporting activity, it is often amazing to see how quickly a diverse group of players relax, join in and start interacting with each other. Especially when provided with age and ability appropriate local sports activities.

Team and individual goals

Many sports require you to instantly be part of a team. What could be more conducive than that, for building local friendships?

The best grassroots sports programmes for children expand on this, to deliver some wonderful life skills.

For instance, when The Little Foxes Club provides sports holiday camps in the London area, the coaches and play leaders encourage team spirit and cohesion all the time. This includes gently instilling such values as empathy, supporting your teammates, and being gracious in both victory and defeat.

This leading children’s sports provider also works with local authorities in the UK to deliver the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, giving children access to meals and activities if they receive free school meals in term times.

As communication and co-operation are also such an important aspect of community-based sporting activities, children of all ages and backgrounds quickly feel right at home and part of something special.

However, the best local sports providers for children also give participants ways of working towards individual achievements, as well as team goals. This builds individual self- confidence and self-worth, in a way that could well translate to greater willingness to build new friendships with other participants as well as children they meet at school and other places.

Something for the whole family, and nation

Lastly, it’s important to mention that the fun and friendship to be found in sport is also reflected in the way it can involve the whole family. From proud parents cheering you on from the sidelines to families attending sporting fixtures together to cheer on their teams, sport is inclusive and something that all ages can enjoy.

Sports events and clubs have become a core part of British society and everyday life, especially cricket and football. As a nation, we are the home of sporting competitions like Wimbledon, watched worldwide.

Clearly then, sports activities are closely tied to our national identity, and pride in our local culture and community, making them a universally respected talking point and interest.  Just one more way sport can open the door to new friendships.

For details about how The Little Foxes Club and Foxes FC support social interaction and fun, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly customer service team!

© The Little Foxes Club

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