Participating in team sport is always a big thing for school-aged kids, from football and netball, to cricket and tee-ball, to water polo and hockey. Team sport also plays a big part at school with PE and school teams opening sport up for more kids. But as kids grow up into their teens and beyond, there's a tendency for them to drift away from sport, apart from the super elite players.
Now there's a trend for adults to get back into team sport, be it trying something totally new, or making a comeback to a sport they played in their youth. There's more and more 40-something adults with careers, families, and free will – and Wednesday night summer soccer is the best 90 minutes of the week.
That time is now seriously precious, and we protect it as fiercely as if it were a baby: Re-arranging interstate meetings, juggling childcare arrangements…
Why is it so important? Team sport has long been considered a crucial part of character development in children, but we’re beginning to recognise what a powerful weapon it can be in the arsenal of fitness and stress reduction. Apart from the basic element of exercise, here are four reasons why team sport for adults works so well:
Playing with others in a team environment gives us extra incentive: we don’t want to let team mates down – so we make the effort to get to training, and we train harder to increase stamina. We’re keen to improve techniques and make a difference to the team.
There’s value in tradition, even the newest ones: having a fixed point in the week to look forward to – that’s independent of work and family commitments – can be incredibly valuable to a stressed psyche. An appointment, for your personal improvement, that becomes a part of the fabric of your life – that’s a true benefit.
It’s confidence boosting: watching your skills blossom and develop with practice under the gentle coaching of your peers is very empowering. There is discipline required, but it’s self-imposed. Your choice: your effort & your reward & result.
It’s sociable, but in a different way: sport is a great leveller. Join a team and you’ll find yourself playing alongside people from completely different walks of life, who are interesting, entertaining and on your side. You don’t have to be the gregarious type to make new friendships there, you have common ground: whether it’s empathy over stiff limbs or a shared interest in thrashing this week’s opposition. And don't forget the end-of-season trips!
Remember, it doesn’t have to be serious or super-competitive. There are recreational leagues all over the country for all kinds of sport, and many leagues offer older age divisions such as Over 30s and over 45s football. It's just a matter of finding the grade and age group to suit you and your comfort zone. Just get out there and enjoy it. But make sure you do a really good warm up first!