Children engage in School Inter House Sports in Nigeria
"Mom and Dad, I don't want to play anymore!" Coach am fed up and I think am done”.
 After investing the time and money into any sport, this is the last thing a parent wants to hear, but it happens.  Frequently

Children quitting organized sports occur more often than one might think. Research has shown that approximately 69% of children will quit playing a sport by the age of 14. Why do they want to stop? To answer that question let's look at why they start or why parents put their children into a sport in the first place.

1. Competence (learning and improving)

2. Affiliation (Being a part of something like a team or a club)

3. Fitness (agility, balance, coordination, and physical health)

4. Fun (This is the overwhelming reason why children play sports)
Notice that "winning" is not one of the reasons.

 When children leave a game, they want to know two things:
(1) When do we play again?
(2) Where is the snack?

Children are not as concerned about winning as adults may think. Children all want to compete, but they each have their own interpretation of competitiveness. For most, if one team is red and the other is blue then "game on." Children strive to do their best when they step into "competition." They also want competitive matches. Remember when you were a child playing in the backyard and the game was too lopsided? What did you do? I remember stopping those games to start a new one with different teams or balance the game out. I think many of us forget what emotions we went through growing up as a child and how we viewed competition.

From a 7-year research and investigation to the sport participation on schools in Nigeria showed me that when children are growing older, dropped participation in at least one sport and focus on something else. “I just can’t take it anymore coach,” a talented but under performing female player in one of the school I train named Precious told me a few months back. “I think I am done playing. Sports master and I asked why?”

My mind went through all the reasons this might be happening: burnout, other interests, team dynamics, I was too hard on her, the gamut. What could it be?
But her response was “It’s my dad. He loves me and I know he only wants the best for me, but he just can’t stop coaching me, in the car, and from the sideline each and every game. I can’t play when he is around, and he insists on coming to every game, every road trip, you name it. It’s like it’s more important to him than it is to me.”

Sadly, Precious story is a common one. It is a tale about well-intentioned parents whom want nothing but the best for their children. They love their kids; they just don’t always love them in a helpful way.
As I have stated and laid emphasis many times, 69% of children are dropping out of organized sports by the age of 14. Whenever I mention this sad statistic, people come out of the wood work saying that it’s only the kids who aren’t good enough to play that quit. They say it’s an age where school, jobs and other interests take precedence. These things are true and contribute to a part of the dropout rate, but they are not the entire picture.

Sadly, in our current state of youth sports in Nigeria, kids and families are asked to do more and more at younger and younger ages, especially the kids who show early aptitude in a sport. Many of these athletes, our most dedicated and talented ones, burnout and drop out as well.

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We don’t simply lose the kids who cannot make varsity; we lose many of the best athletes on our teams that would have served efficiently and make our country Nigeria proud.
If you are a parent or a coach, I believe it is critical that we have a good understanding of why kids play, and why they quit. It is also crucial that we have open lines of communication with our athletes, so we can spot some of the red flags and right the ship before it’s too late.

Let's get into why they stop. Research says children stop playing sports for a variety of reasons. 
• Lack of Playing Time
 • Overemphasis on Winning 
• Other Activities are more interesting 
• Lack of Fun
• Coaching/Adult Behaviors         
• Dissatisfaction with Performance and injuries
• Lack of Social Support

With this in mind, here are some key points to remember about kids playing sports and not quit to help grassroot developmental programs:
v  Children should develop a sense of passion for the sport." Parents and coaches need to be aware of what kids can accomplish at their differing developmental levels -- physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Don't make unrealistic expectations concerning your child's sports performance -- be it in the area of muscle coordination, dedication, or attention span. Many kids lose their passion for youth sports during these years because they feel they can't live up to their parents' and coaches' expectations.

v  Kids start dropping out in big numbers at this stage. Playing sports loses its enjoyment for them and "fun" takes a back seat to winning. Pick-up games and just "playing for fun" should be encouraged. The key at this vulnerable stage is to keep them playing the sports they enjoy -- if not on school or youth teams, then informally with friends. Not being on a team does not mean they have failed as athletes. It just means that they have to find other pleasurable ways to continue enjoying their sports.

v  But what about kids who still love to play sports but can't because of their demanding academic, social, and work lives? Parents need to remind these kids of the fun they had playing these games and help them to find time to play them with family members and friends. Helping your kids stay connected to the sports they love now can encourage them to remain physically active throughout their lives.

Olatoye Olawale Director of Communications
& Editor of 
WRITTEN BY : Olatoye Olawale
Twitter: @1on1is1

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