This week we are celebrating Parents in Sport Week, and recognising the importance that parents have in youth sport.
We caught up with Mandy Hughes, mother of GB & Welsh International athletes Cari and Iolo Hughes. Mandy has been supporting her children since they started out in athletics as U11’s and we asked her to share with us her experiences of supporting her children who have grown up through athletics.
So Mandy, apart from being a parent, do you currently have any other roles in the sport?
“Unfortunately no, we do not. Both of my children are so committed to their athletics so it is very difficult to find time for anything else! Prior to them starting athletics, John used to be a manager of the local football team and also used to be a regular on the golf course”
What are the positive aspects of having children so heavily involved in athletics?
“There are so many positive aspects of having children involved in athletics. We have made friends with people from all over the country that we never would have met otherwise, and Cari & Iolo have friends on the circuit from all over the world.
We have also been able to travel a lot – going out to Africa to watch Cari in the World Cross Country Championships was at truly amazing experience.
It’s also good for the children to get out there and compete – it gives them so many valuable experiences of dealing with challenging and pressurised situations.”
Tell us about some of the challenges that you have faced..
“As the children have become older and more committed to their athletics, the balance between education and athletics can become an issue. With a heady training volume and intense education schedule, it becomes difficult to find time for everything and prioritising becomes important.
Injuries also bring about challenges as the athletes become irritated with not being able to train. Our experience with injuries is that they never come at a good time – always before major championships or qualifying races, which is particularly hard for the athlete to accept. It has been so important as parents to be supportive and positive through these periods.”
What advice would you offer then to other parents whose children are involved in athletics?
“If I could offer advice to other parents with children in athletics it would be this; try and support the children at all times and make time for them; go to races with them to positively support them. We have never interfered with their training schedule or tactics – we leave that to the coach. Finally, enjoy the race day experiences. These are great times in your children’s lives that they will never forget. In time, they will come to cherish them.”
You can read more about Parents in Sport Week and how to get involved here.