Parents are key to a child’s life-long involvement and enjoyment in sport

The NSPCC and Sport Northern Ireland have joined forces with more than 100 sports clubs and Governing Bodies in the UK and Ireland to promote Parents in Sport Week next month. Running from 3-9 October, the purpose of the week is to recognise and reinforce the vital role parents play in supporting a child to reach their full potential, as well as providing clubs and organisations with resources to continue to enhance this relationship going forward.

Clubs and organisations are being called on to sign up to and promote Parents in Sport Week as the first step to on-going and long term support for the important role of parents in sport. Organisers hope to highlight the essential role parents have to a child’s enjoyment and success in playing sport, and address negative or extreme behaviour thatcan often take away from a child’s experience of sport or their desire to continue participating within sport, as they no longer see taking part in sport as fun.

Explaining the aims of Parents in Sport Week, Paul Stephenson of the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit commented: “Parents greatly influence a child’s experience in sport through the actions they display and the opportunities and feedback they provide to their child. Parents will be aware that sometimes it’s difficult to know what feedback to provide, what actions are the ‘right’ actions, and how best to support their child. Clubs, coaches and officials are best placed to assist in this relationship and to assist them.  The NSPCC has developed a range of resources to encourage and enhance positive relationships including videos, presentations, practical examples, and hints and tips on how to promote and support a parent’s role“.

Interim Chair of Sport Northern Ireland, Brian Delaney praised the work of parents in sport:

“Parents have a vital part to play in ensuring that children and young people in Northern Ireland are active and able enjoy, engage and excel in all the positive benefits that come from involvement in sport. Sport Northern Ireland welcomes the great work being done by the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit to promote the positive role of parents during Parents in Sport Week.  There are some great practical ideas and measures on the organisation’s website, and we would encourage local coaches, clubs and sports organisations to sign up and get involved.”

Results from research with teenagers show how important parents are as role models.Dr Camilla Knight of Swansea University studies parental involvement in sport and commented “Without the support of their parents and carers, the opportunities for children to engage in sport and reach their full potential will be limited“.With regards to negative parental behaviour, Dr Knight added “Unfortunately, this is leading to some coaches and organisations limiting their involvement with and support of parents which subsequently affects children’s experiences”.

The full range of resources for clubs, coaches and parents are available at