By Oscar Pilipili
Children and youth who join sports at an early age are more successful in adulthood than those who start participating in games when mature.
This is according to Kenyaâs 2011 Report Card on the Physical Activity and Body Weight of Children and Youth that was prepared and produced by Health Active Kids Kenya (HAKK) in partnership with Active Health Kids Canada and launched at Kenyatta University. According to the document, it has been reported that 87 per cent of Kenyan athletes attending university did not participate in sports while in primary school, but their participation began while at secondary school.
[PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD
The key perceived barriers to participation in sports included disabilities, fear, avoidance, over protection by parents/guardians and lack of opportunities and/or time.
The report reveals that athletes from upper-class associated backgrounds were found to be predominantly participating in sports perceived as more "prestigious" and associated with higher costs such as rugby while those from the middle and lower classes dominated in sports such as football, netball or hockey, thought to be "culturally-neutral".
In his presentation during a forum at KU, Vincent Onywera said: "Sports serve as an excellent opportunity for physical activity. It is, therefore, essential to provide an all-inclusive sports culture and infrastructure to primary school such that parents are able to encourage their children to participate in sports on the basis of talent rather than status in society."
Onywera is Lead Scientific Officer (HAKK) Kenyatta University, Department of Recreation Management and Exercise Science.
"Children and Youth who play sports have more positive body image than those who donât," says the report.
The report further indicates that participation in sports also improves academic performance in children, develops leadership qualities, and fosters team spirit. Participation in competitive sports exposes the players to the aspects of success and failure, thereby contributing to their social development for a positive competitive spirit.
The first of its kind, Kenyaâs 2011 Report Card on the Physical Activity and Body Weight of Children and Youth will provide a baseline assessment of the state of affairs on the physical activity patterns and body weights of Kenyan children and youth.