Once upon a time, many many moons ago I used to coach a kids football team back in my home town.
As a young man, working with children gave me a real insight in to parenting. The kids in the squad all had different personalities and attributes but I was always interested if there was a correlation between the child’s ability and how much they were pushed by their parents. There is no doubting natural ability plays a massive part and some children are just gifted at certain things, especially when it comes to sport, but parental involvement and interest plays a massive part in my opinion.
My assumptions were underpinned when I worked for Manchester United as a football scout. The kids at the academy were some of the best in world and it was no surprise the club churned out such good players seeing as some of them were nurtured from the tender age of 4.
Natural ability, opportunity, training and coaching aside… the other key ingredients were the parents at Manchester United. It was very noticeable, they were all driven and wanted their children to succeed no matter what. Were some of the parents living vicariously through their children? Oh yes! You only have to visit the local park on Sunday and listen to the memorising tactics and advice parents bark at their children from the sidelines to know how parents try to revive their failed aspirations through their offspring.
When we found out we were pregnant, I began to plan what sports and hobbies I would encourage my kids to do. I daydreamed of Rambini playing football, but I really didn’t fancy standing in the cold on a wet winters morning, so indoor sports are what I thought of. Swimming? Gymnastics? Ballet? MMA?!
Yes… you read correctly. MMA, the sports behind UFC and the fabled cage fighting. Why would I want my daughter to partake in such a violent sport? Well, you guessed it… because I do MMA and Rambo has an interest in fighting as well. Rambo and I actually met in a kickboxing gym; she kicked me in the balls and put me in the hospital as a way of introduction, but I managed to look through the pain and misguided kick to fall in love with her.
Rambo and I are unanimous in our proposed plan for Rambini to practice the three disciplines that make up mixed martial arts: muay thai, boxing and ju jitsu. However, this post may be the first time that I have mentioned to anyone, including Rambo, that I want our first child to be the worlds number 1 fighter. I suspect Rambo may have a few words to say about my plan as she got upset watching our daughter having injections for her vaccinations, never mind watching another woman trying to knock her block off when she becomes older.
This thinking has been fuelled by the rise of prominent female role models in the UFC. Ronda Rousey to name one, but also the young British fighter, Dakota Ditcheva.
Check out the link of Dakota Ditcheva on the BBC, it’s well worth a watch:
I don’t like idea of my daughter being in pain or ever suffering. She is only 8 weeks old and it’s a bit premature to plan her future without her say so, but I like the idea of her being a confident and empowered lady. Now I know that sport is not the only way she can achieve this and in fact there is no guarantee that it will even have the desired effect, but as parents we do what we think is right for our child.
Putting my aspirations and ego to one side, I want to always remember not to push my daughter too hard in any direction. I’ve seen overpowering, pushy parents and I don’t want to be one. I hope I can guide and support Ramibini in anything she wants to try or take on in life. I will no doubt love her whatever she becomes or achieves, but I hope she has a good left hook in her arsenal just in case she needs to look after her dad one day.