All this week we have been celebrating Parents in Sport Week, recognising the importance that parents have in various roles across the sport.
Someone who is all too familiar with leading a busy life as a parent in sport is Lynne Brier, mother of Welsh & GB International duo Hannah and Joe. Lynne shared her thoughts with us…
Hi Lynne, you have a number of different roles in the sport, how did you first become involved?
Like a lot of parents, I got involved through the children. When they took an interest in the athletics I was going to the club and just started to help out where I could. I began coaching in 2007 and am a now a qualified sprints coach. In the past, I was also one of the team managers for the junior section for several years. I am currently the Vice Chairperson on the Swansea Harriers committee and also a member of the Welsh Athletics Track and Field committee.
Hannah and Joe have obviously been performing well in recent years, from your perspective, what are the positive aspects of them being involved in athletics?
As a parent, there are plenty of positives to having children involved in athletics. Apart from the obvious fact that you are encouraging them to become fit, active, healthy individuals, you are also providing them with the opportunity to make life-long friendships and create life-long memories. I know this from my own days as an athlete. Athletics is a sport that allows you to track your personal bests and see your performances improve. This is always good for a child’s self-esteem and confidence. The sport also teaches young athletes to take the bad with the good and learn how to deal with disappointment. In addition, I personally enjoy travelling with the team and meeting new people. I have made lots of new friends who are also parents involved in athletics, and I look forward to the summer season when I can meet up with other parents around the country. Athletics is a great way to spend time with your family and meet new people at the same time.
Have you experienced any challenges?
Yes! The challenges that I have faced vary from dealing with track-side tears and frustration when an injury suddenly occurs, and making sure that my children manage their time effectively between training, school work and socialising. I have been very lucky so far that my children have never lost interest or come across peer pressure. However, I do know that the main challenge for many parents is the struggle to keep their children involved when the interest may be diminishing. This can be very frustrating and tough as a parent, to see children not fulfilling their true potential. This becomes even more difficult when the parent is heavily involved and wants to continue to be an ‘athletics parent’.
I can also fully appreciate that involvement in athletics can be quite costly and difficult to finance. However, in comparison to most sports, athletics is one of the most affordable and accessible sports that there is - once again, we must remember that the benefits far outweigh any of the drawbacks.
What advice, if any, could you share with other parents who have children involved in athletics?
The advice that I share with other athletics parents is to learn from an early stage not to put pressure on the child and remember that your interpretation of pressure and “pushiness” may vary a great deal from your child’s interpretation of pressure and “pushiness.” I learnt very early in my role as an athletics parent not to discuss in depth a pending race or competition. In fact, even telling them that I thought they were going to do well in a race could be interpreted as my expectation for them to win or at least medal. I would also advise athletics parents to never take it upon themselves to analyse their child’s performance immediately after a competition or even in the car on the way home, especially if the child is disappointed or upset.
For more information on Parents in Sport week, visit The CPSU website.