Champions just don’t turn up at an international event not having come through the system – and that system starts off as youngsters through sporting clubs.
The real champions are the mums and dad coaches who spend endless hours with their charges developing their skills in their respective sports.
Go to any sporting ground anywhere in Australia on a Saturday morning and you’ll find wall to wall kids of all ages, boys and girls, teenagers, young people all vying their wares in the sports arena.
As these young people turn into serious sporting teenagers so to the rewards and we find quite brilliant achievers in tennis, rodeo, cricket, football, hockey, netball, gymnastics, swimming, diving and the rest of them.
So too are there spheres of influence to obstruct such endeavours. It was reported to me last week that a primary school cross country was marred when numbers of the senior girls decided it was un-cool to fully participate and walked the entire route.
In my own case as a youngster growing up in Canberra, hockey was my chosen sport, and was part of the Canberra Baptist Junior Hockey Club (Hockey was developed in Canberra by the Churches before and after WWII). When I transferred with my career to Wollongong I joined St Matthews Hockey Club from whence I was selected at much higher representative levels and my hockey writing.
Club sport was instrumental in my life. The late Bill Hellier was my Canberra Baptist Junior Hockey Club coach as was John Williams. In Wollongong it was Dr Bob Wheway at St Matthews. Mentoirng is critical in the development of young people.
But the same applies across the board - the sciences and their Youth Science Olympics. Education similarly, Chess, Music, Youth Bands, and Christian youth ministry is precisely the same.
Youth ministry today is one of the major growth areas at seminaries and bible colleges. Again, I refer to my own experiences with the Canberra Baptist Youth Group and their wonderful Easter camps. Likewise when I moved to Wollongong and the Port Kembla Baptist Church where as the years went on I was able to preach at youth services.
Again it was those skilled in youth ministry along with the parents who sacrificially spent time helping and in transport.
Nevcr despise this ‘junior club experience’ whether it be sports, culture, music, Christian development. Get involved. Be active. Show support and engender their skills in whatever it is.
The same applies to Christian youth programs. How many young people cut their teeth in youth leadership roles in church youth programs that stood the test of time when they moved on to university or in to the work force.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html