8 reasons why all boys should play team sports

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I recently read a brilliant article written by a 20 year old female rugby player Tesni Phillips titled ‘I would NEVER let my daughter play rugby’. She wrote the article after an ignorant parent commented on how they would never let their daughter play rugby.  Rather than ignore the comment the rugby player details how much her sport of rugby has impacted on her life and what that person’s daughter will miss out on.

This article spurred me on to write my own account of playing netball for the past 30 or so years with breaks for injuries and babies which you can read here

But I also wanted to write my own account of being a parent of two boys who both play team sports. Not being a ‘pushy’parent but I  do know the value of playing in team sports as I continue to play in mine, and they simply cannot be overstated.

One thing that is certain with team sports and that is the participant will experience injuries, will experience losing games, a dip in performance may result in being benched, some coaches suck and the player might hate him/her and think that they are treating them unfairly.

All of these are good, in my opinion as they provide a solid foundation to real life, something which I think that the current state of sport in schools has lost. Sports Days were the only competitive aspect to my schooling, and winners were rewarded and losers felt loss. Both of which are lacking in todays school now that all and sundry adopt the ‘it’s not the winning that counts, it’s the taking part’.

My home has experienced broken arms, torn ligaments, fractured fingers, black eyes and twisted ankles though various injuries as a sporting family participating in ice-hockey, lacrosse, athletics, judo, tae kwon-do and netball.

I would never tell either of my children that they can’t play contact sports like that parent of the rugby girl did. Participating in sports has given them a wealth of experience, skills, memories and most importantly FUN. That’s all I ever wanted from the day I became a parent was to make sure that my children had fun, made memories and have a childhood to remember, in particular that they were permitted to experience life rather than be wrapped up in cotton wool and kept away from the world.IMG_0003

Okay, I will admit to being a tiny bit pushy. Both of my boys were forced to participate in swimming lessons from an early age. A lifeskill that I didn’t take lightly, given that I was the only child in my primary school who couldn’t swim. I recall the sheer embarrassment of having to wear arm bands as a ten year old and being taunted for that. I hated water, hated swimming and it took me to the grand old age of 33 to learn to swim properly. Firstly I didn’t want my kids to experience the embarrassment of being the only non-swimmer in their class when it came round to school swimming lessons. Secondly, I wanted them to enjoy holidays abroad and be able to swim in the sea, which was the main reason that I took lessons so I too could join in the fun in the Med.

From an early age both my boys were told to find sports that they would like to try for themselves. Basketball, football, tennis, athletics, martial arts and they finally both stuck to ice-hockey and lacrosse. The sport wasn’t important. To experience as many sports as possible is great as long as they stuck with one when they hit their teenage years.

So here are  8 reasons why in my home we encourage team sports.

1) Happier boys

You cannot argue with research and apparently an athletic student is happier than kids who do not participate in team sports. Good old endorphins help with feeling happy though. I know from a personal point of view that the thought of going to the gym makes me feel miserable, but I never leave the gym feeling unhappy. Teenager boys are also battling with testosterone during puberty and what better way to burn off that pent up aggression than a two hour training session on the ice twice a week. These sessions generally leave my boys so physically exhausted that they can’t be bothered getting grumpy and moody over day-to-day challenges.

2) Common goal
Being part of something that is bigger than themselves is a great thing. There isn’t much opportunity to do that as a child and it’s a great way to prepare for the wide world of work. Teams succeed and fail together and it’s a valuable life lesson being able to experience both the highs of winning, and the lows of losing. Being there for a team mate and also experiencing how it feels for a team-mate to have your back is something that those people who shy away from team sports will never truly understand or undergo.

3) Practice, practice, practice

Sports is the best place to learn about the importance of being determined and practicing to achieve an outcome. With the added incentive of not wanting to let your team mates down it is a valuable lesson in being responsible for others. Each team sport have designated positions which the person taking that role has to fulfil. As a defender in my netball team if I’m not up to challenging for a pass, a deflection or a loose ball then how are the attackers in my team going to do their job.  I also find that there are plenty of excuses to not go to the gym session, but as a member of a team you have to turn out for team practices and matches otherwise the team will be short on players.

4) Expertise

When my youngest son played for his Under 10s ice-hockey team they decided to have a parents vs kids match to which I ended up taking part in. I can barely skate, so to do that and try and control a puck was so difficult. I didn’t realise how difficult it was until I had a go and I came away from that session with an incredible respect for what my sons and husband are able to do on the ice. They really are experts in their sport as they make it look so easy, but trust me it isn’t. They would certainly have never developed such skills in balance, co-ordination, position and control by sitting on an xbox every night or drinking in the park until the early hours of the morning.

5) Keeping out of trouble

Teenagers often get into trouble, and having nothing to do after school and college doesn’t help. More and more they are either sitting around the parks, shops etc with their mates or playing on online games which is equally a rigid sitting position to adopt for long periods of time. At least with team sports there are practices twice a week, matches at weekends and team gatherings which keep them occupied. Having the boys attending many training sessions for very active sports such as ice-hockey and lacrosse means that they are unlikely to develop obesity and health conditions in later life. Not only are they staying out of trouble, they are maintaining a healthy weight and and active body.

6) Learning to lead

Not everyone playing in sports teams will learn to lead, and there will always be cases of those who prefer to stand in the background and let others take the lead. However, sport is a great tool for finding leaders who may not be aware that they possess the skills needed to become a natural leader. Eldest son was asked to captain his under 16s team several years ago. He was reluctant to do this at first. The coach saw leadership qualities in him during practices and thought he would be the perfect youngster to lead the team that season. For each game that he had to captain which involved pre-match talks with the team, liaising with the officials during the matches to giving a speech at the awards night I watched his confidence grow on a monthly basis. This transpired to his part-time employment where he has been given the role as mentor for any new staff. I’m not sure where he would have developed leadership qualities if it hadn’t been for his sports.

7) Sense of belonging to something

I think most people like belonging to something and sports are a fabulous way to introduce youngsters to a family away from their own. High school in particular can be a mine field at times and team sports cut across social divides and increases the number of adults and children that the youngster comes across on a weekly basis. With the increase in single parent families, in particular for boys it can also give them valuable male role models for the child to have. Being part of a team really does give kids a sense of belonging.

8) Memories

Such great memories are made from being part of a sports team. I remember away trips with the netball team at school and colleg, but can barely remember which teacher taught me Maths or Science. My sons have experienced many away trips, weekend aways and social gatherings with their team mates which have given them memories of the sports seasons.

Those are eight reasons that spring to my mind as to why I think that it’s important for boys to play team sports. I’m so glad that mine continue to play in their late teens and early twenties. Not only are they still happy and healthy, but they have developed a strong team and work ethos that might not have been there without this.

Perhaps those hundreds of miles travelled in road trips,hours spent watching training sessions, expensive subs and kit were really worth it all along.

A Level results – a guide for parents

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The past seventy-two hours has been consumed with discussions, media and posts about A-level results.

Tip-top advice for any A-level student who need to know what to expect next with their achieved results.

But what about us parents? The world seems to discard the anguish and anticipation of what we go through during the lead up and on the day of that all important Thursday during August.

My Wednesday nights sleep was disturbed several times as I lay awake hoping that my son will pass his exams. A last minute change of university meant that he was holding out for clearing at a local university. images

I did advise him back in October 2013 to select one university close to home in case he had a change of heart about moving away. As usual, he didn’t listen to me so was left declining all his places and taking his chances in clearing.

I drove him to Sixth Form at 8.00am on Thursday morning and even before we got through the front door I could feel myself getting emotional. I knew I had to keep it together in case the news wasn’t good. Nothing prepares you for that roller-coaster of emotions, it was more nerve-wracking than two months prior when I was waiting to open my results for my Masters degree.

My son’s results were superb but he was a grade away from his first choice of university course. Being adamant that he would resit I left him with his friends and advised him to not completely disregard other courses or universities in the area.

Later in the day he informs me that his chosen university has an even better course that he is interested in and he has the grades to hopefully be offered a place through clearing.

Being laid-back he decides to wait a day to contact them. This is the part that I struggle with. I’m one of these that will get onto things straight away and not chance anything. He’s eighteen though, it’s his future and his life so I had to bite my tongue and offer support when he needed it.

He was offered a place on the course the next day and I was over the moon. The relief I felt was immense as I struggle with anyone having control over members of my family – and yes I know it’s not really strangers having control, but it felt like it.

Again though as a parent you are just thrust into the support role which you have to learn as you go along. Only being able to do so much and hope that your children make the right choices, work hard and succeed in life.

It’s all about the students, quite rightly so but nobody ever asks the parent how they are holding up throughout the stress and strain of exams. For good parents it affects us too so if you’re a young person going through this too – spare a thought for mum and dad.

World Book Day

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I woke up this morning to the usual packed timeline on Facebook and Twitter of enthusiastic parents proudly displaying their works of art.

The works of art being their children dressed up as characters from a story to celebrate the 2014 World Book Day.

As I rolled over in bed looking at these images on my phone I felt a tiny sense of sadness that my children are both too old for this, but that was immediately overtaken by a sense of relief.
I am now excused from the pressure exerted on us parents from the schools in what became known to me as shaming those parents who couldn’t spend weeks preparing a hand-made costume.

Oh yes indeed, I used to despise the pressure that was World Book Day in my kids primary school.

It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t a celebration of books, characters and authors – no it was a competition amongst the nightmare playground mothers who thrived on little Cayden or little Sophie winning the coveted prize awarded by the school for the best costume.

Being a full-time working mother I used to feel intense pressure the moment that letter from the school had made its way home to announce that National Who’s a Bad Parent? World Book Day was coming.

I all but booted my kids out of the car every day as I had to battle the traffic to get to work each day.

Where would I find time to go to the crafts shop, make the costume and more importantly make a good job of it so that child was not picked on by those kids dressed by Gok and Tony Hart. The ones where the mothers had spent the past two weeks in between Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women to cut, stitch and design those costumes.

One year I made Mr Bump during my lunch break at work as soon as I’d realised that tomorrow was the show off day. I’ve been up to 1am gluing pipe cleaners to a swimming cap to make a “Wild Thing” until finally the last year I had to endure this mockery of books, I gave in and bought a Where’s Wally costume which I accessorised.

World Book Day 2011, as my child rocked up dressed as Where’s Wally, he was pushed aside by Cayden who had to get the double doors open so that he could walk into school with flipping Hogwarts attached to him.

Deep breathe – it was fine. I would never have to endure this test to how to make a working mother feel like a failure again.

I wouldn’t have minded but for most of these competitive parents experience of reading probably went as far as Fifty Shades of Grey, never mind read on a regular basis and passing on their love of books to their kids.

World Book Day should be a time to celebrate the great stories of the past and present. Let’s try and get back to that instead of making it such a vile excuse for parents to show off.image

24 July : Write what you know #wpad

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It’s the easy option, isn’t it? Write what you know, but it’s always a challenge to write about what you don’t know.

I’m only just starting out as a scriptwriter so it makes sense at the moment to write about what I know. First hand experience about a topic is like a nugget of gold as it means that emotions, knowledge and it being realistic will be key to the script.

At the same time I would love to develop my writing further which I know will attract a lot of research going into it prior to writing.

Working full-time limits the amount of time that can be spent researching, and add onto that a part-time degree. But, it’s not impossible and the internet and books provide a wealth of information on all kinds of topics.

This blog prompt made me take a few minutes to dig deep and think about what I do know that I could write about. Like everybody else we all have experiences, sometimes positive and some negative that could be turned into a story.

My current project takes on a vast amount of my life experiences within the context of the six-parts. When the characters were created some of them were based on actors, characters in other dramas and real life people. Some characteristics in the three main characters come from myself, either when I was a teenager and to how I am as a parent to a teenager.

Writing for female characters is also less of a challenge than writing male ones for the obvious reason. But living with three males offers it’s own research as I often will pass bits of dialogue and plot between them and ask if “would that really happen to a man?” However, I can see the benefit of having a writing partner from the opposite sex as both points of view can come through in the writing of certain characters.

Back to my current project, write what you know! The set is based around my nana’s home when she was alive.

I loved the fact that everybody on the estate knew who my nana was. She never locked her door during the day and folk would walk into her house to see her.

I recall during my rebellious teenage years being “chatted up” (am sure it’s not called that now – I must ask the teenager). Anyway I was chatted up by a young man in a nightclub who lived on the same estate as her. It’s a huge estate in Preston, and he lived at the opposite end but he still knew who my nana was – the woman was a legend! I wish I had known that back then and appreciated her more.

The concept of being part of a tight community is what prompted me to write the project.

I couldn’t tell you the names of my neighbours where I live, yet back when I was a child everybody knew everybody in the area. It would be nice to live in a community like that again.

I guess most writing comes from writing what you know, and it sure is fun to make up the other bits.

This is a post for blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.
thurnham road

What makes me cry : Challenge 25

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onions chillies

Onions. Those mother-truckers never fail to make me weep.

Cutting up fresh chillies, not washing my hands properly and then scratching my eyes. Ouch – my eyeballs are twitching just thinking about this one.

Kids. When I used to watch my kids perform in their primary school assemblies. Not sure they believed the “Durr it’s a dusty hall and my eyes are sensitive” line.

Sport. Watching/hearing human emotion in a sporting arena. I cried when I heard Sebastian Vettel being told by Christian Horner on the radio that he had won his first world championship (Formula 1 for any non-fans), Michael Phelps at the past two Olympics and Mo Farrah winning his Olympic gold. And yes the floodworks were in full swing two weeks ago when Rafa Nadal won the French Open. I think I cried twice during that broadcast, when he won and then when he was being interviewed. Oh dear.Michael Phelps


Love Actually. The scene where the dad and his son go chasing through Heathrow Airport to tell the son’s crush that “she’s the one”. Every time I watch that film I have to get myself ready for that scene. I can feel the other family members watching me as I hide my head under a pillow, sniffing away and trying to convince them “I’m not crying – blimey how many times have I watched this film? I’m not a saddo” – cue the blowing of the nose.

love actually

Les Miserables. The song “Bring him Home”. Speaking to Les Miserables I have to see a performance when I haven’t wept like a baby at the end, and I’ve seen it live five times now. Thank goodness I had an empty bucket of popcorn on my lap when I saw the movie as it was snot city on the third row.

les mis

This is a post for blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June.

Optimum Atmosphere – Challenge 10 in blog writing for June challenge

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The next blog writing challenge is about optimum atmosphere.

I could delve back into my “raving” days where every weekend I would be part of a gathering of like-minded individuals who were all congregated for the same goal of dancing till the early hours of the morning and feeling euphoric. But we change as we get older and so do our preferences.

My optimum atmosphere is anywhere that my kids and husband are. I like nothing better than us all sitting together watching television in the same room, or listening to them singing in the shower, spending time outdoors as a family and long car journeys where we can all sing along (that doesn’t happen much due to varying tastes in music), but when something comes on the radio that we all like I just sit back and listen.

It doesn’t happen as much these days as we all seem to be busy and in different places, but I cherish those moments when they do arise.

This is a post for’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June – I’m behind already but determined to catch up #wpad

People think I’m……. Challenge number 9

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Whatever people think of me, they are probably right.

As part of a training session with work I had to find out what my work colleagues thought of me by giving them a set of twenty words, and for them to choose ten words that best describe me.

The work colleagues who really know me well practically chose the same words as I chose for myself. The others would choose words which didn’t surprise me, as I am quiet, shy and can appear intense with people that I don’t really know. But, those who know me well, know that I am not like that with those I feel comfortable with.

My neighbours in the street probably think I am rude and ignorant, as I avoid making small talk or engage in conversations. It’s not that I am either, it’s just whenever they see me outside it is usually either going to, or coming home from work. Working 12 hours on 3 days a week, the last thing I want to do is start making chit-chat about the weather. Some people like that sort of thing – not me!

My close friends think I am focused and lead a busy life. They are right, and that is how I prefer my life to be. In my twenties, I was raising children and didn’t have much else going on in my life. This lead to low self-esteem and arguments in the house, through my frustration. Towards the latter end of my twenties I lost a very close friend suddenly and it made me re-evaluate my life. I wasn’t living, I was merely existing and it was time to discover the things that I enjoyed doing. Just because I was a mother didn’t mean that my life had to end. So, I started playing netball again, began to write, developed friendships and found a job that I felt passionate about. The rest is history!

3 June 2013 – What I do best

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Day three of the blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June! A big challenge when I can barely write one blog per month at the moment.

Today’s topic is a tough one and I’ve spent all day thinking about what the best answer would be. So, who is the authority on all things me –  my other half. As the person who knows me best – if he can’t enlighten me then nobody can.

After the initial, “is this a trick question?” “I really can’t win with this one can I?” and “nagging!” he did spend a few minutes thinking about the question. Oh, and he didn’t say nagging either, he wouldn’t dare.

The obvious ones are organising the family, making sure the school trips are all paid for, remembering important dates  etc which to be honest, isn’t that what being a mother is all about anyway?

Now I don’t mean to be sexist as there are a lot of very able fathers who all do that too. However, when running a busy family, as our family is it does require one person to steer that ship and it could have been either of us. However, the control freak in me being a typical virgo does not like relinquishing any responsibility to anybody else because if things don’t happen, or are forgotten I would rather blame myself than be frustrated with anyone else. Plus, the other half likes to not have to think about those kinds of things either.

So, getting off the subject slightly. What do I do best?

Well the other half tells me that I good at being incredibly focused and disciplined when it comes to my hobbies and studies. He states that I always seem to have enough time to study both for my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, play netball, run, work the day job, meet up with friends and still engage with the family life too. It was a nice thing to say, and I guess he is right.

busy mother

Maybe then, the thing I do best is to hide my emotions and sheer panic of not having enough hours in the day to do everything that I want to do, if I seem to make it look like a breeze.

I also seem to be able to write more when I have deadlines to work to.  This writer’s prompt a day challenge is certainly helping me move away from procrastination and not only am I writing these blog entries but I’m story outlining my comedy drama every evening too.

Happy June days.

Pulling hair out