South Korea football captain Son Heung-min, one of the best forwards in the Premier League, has often cited his father Woong-jung as a key figure behind his rise to stardom.
Woong-jung coached his son during his early days, not only honing his football fundamentals, but also teaching him about humility and gratitude.
He is just one example of how parents are often a kid’s first coach in any sport.
Locally, Sport Singapore (SportSG) understands the role parents play in encouraging their children to lead active, healthy lifestyles from an early age.
One way the national agency hopes to increase parents’ involvement is by hosting more family- and community-centric events at the Singapore Sports Hub.
On Saturday, the inaugural FunFam SportFest 2022 – Bond as a Family through Sport by ActiveSG Active Parents event – was held at the OCBC Arena and attended by 2,300 people.
This is the largest family-themed sporting event at the Sports Hub since SportSG took over the running of the venue in early December. It featured activities such as sports tryouts as well as programmes by CoachSG, an academy for coaches of all levels.
At the event, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said: “I encourage all of you to try it out, give it some time, and most importantly do it as a family – this way your child will develop a greater appreciation of sport and understanding of it.”
One of the main objectives of the takeover is to make the Sports Hub more accessible to the wider community. There will continue to be international events such as the Fiba 3x3 Asia Cup and WTT Singapore Smash at the Singapore Sports Hub in 2023, but the focus is also on having more community events there.
These include the National School Games, which are set for a return to the National Stadium. There are also plans for the ActiveSG academies and clubs to conduct regular programmes at the Sports Hub.
CoachSG director Azhar Yusof, who ran a few My 1st Coach programme sessions with his son Xuan Ilyas at Saturday’s event, believes that there are many opportunities for parents to learn about coaching.
Azhar was inspired to start the My 1st Coach programme after learning at a conference three years ago that New Zealand, whose population size of around 5 million is similar to Singapore’s, has 320,000 coaches – many of them parent volunteers – compared to the Republic’s 8,000.
“We want to bring this programme to the Sports Hub where parents... can engage with their own kids to... get knowledge and skills on how they can become better sporting parents, better first coaches for their own children,” said Azhar.
He added that there are also plans to bring the programme to schools.
Diana Seng, SportSG’s director of children and youth programme development, said: “We want to equip and empower parents to play a more active role in their children’s lives because parents are important role models for their children, so we want to help to kick-start this from young.”
Among the parents present was Ian Tan, who brought his six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter in the hope of exposing them to different sports.
The 36-year-old, who works in the banking industry, said: “As parents, we understand the value of outdoor activities and living an active lifestyle rather than just staying at home.
“The kids do look forward to these kinds of activities as well, so generally we try to keep them engaged and try to bring them out of the house more.”