You’re 14 years’ old. You live in the heart of a busy city. Soccer is your passion.
Every day you tune in to watch it either on TV, YouTube or if you’re lucky enough – live at the local stadium. You play on the street but your neighbor gets upset when the ball smashes his garage window (it’s only happened twice). Your mom is sick of having to pay out for the window repairman so is avidly trying to abort your flourishing soccer career.
This dilemma is not uncommon.
Whether you’re a kid or an adult, finding a space, a team and a league can be hard – especially in urban areas. Inner city sports leagues can not only help you get active, but they’re a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and this in turn can be a huge boost for your community.
If you live in an urban area and considering either joining or setting up a sports league – we’ve got your back. Here are some of the reasons why organizing sports leagues in urban areas is so important.
1. Sport strengthens communities
If you check out any new large-scale urban regeneration scheme, nine times out of ten there will be some form of sports facility factored into it. Why? Because it’s widely recognized that activities that bring people together, strengthen communities. By embedding themselves within the urban community, sports leagues serve as a great vehicle for creating mixed communities. In urban areas, specifically where communities are so diverse, individuals of different ages and backgrounds are able to meet others who share their passion when they may not otherwise have had the opportunity to.
Any group of people with a shared interest automatically have a ready-made community. In urban areas, it’s much less likely that you’ll know the kid with the same hobbies that lives two miles away or in some case, even your next door neighbor. This is why creating ‘community hubs’, whether physical or virtual, can bring more people in touch with other like-minded people.
2. Individual character development
John Wooden, arguably one of the greatest American Basketball players and coaches of all time, once said: “Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”
Team sports aren’t all about how fast you are and how fit you are. The decisions you make on the pitch and the behaviors you show are just as important. Interaction with team members, the opposition and how you respond to victory or defeat are all part of your character and also really important off the pitch.
The strength of character that you display during games can teach the importance of being able to work well with others, set goals and build confidence – skills that can be used in other areas of life such as the workplace and in personal relationships. For young people, being able to take part in something that’s equally fun, active and character building can only serve as a positive thing.
3. Keeping kids on the ball and off the street
Thinking back to our example of the 14-year-old kid… What happens next? What if there isn’t a sports league in his local area?
If there were a local league, he could get involved, and continue to flourish into the young Pelé that he is (obviously) destined to become. Playing a team sport that also has the wonderful by-product of teaching invaluable life skills will have a much more positive impact on a kid’s life.
4. Teaching teamwork
Teamwork – possibly the most cliched word in sport. It is used for a reason though… if there were no teamwork, there’d be no game. Simple. The ‘T’ word is echoed throughout so many aspects of our life which is why it’s such a valuable skill to have. In any instance, where individuals need to work together to achieve a common goal, teamwork is necessary.
After all, the star player won’t win the championships but the star team will.