When discussing the importance of sport and physical activity especially for children, people often ask me if I think winning is all important or is taking part the most important thing?  This debate seems to have been around at all levels throughout my life and I guess I don't think there is a simple answer.


Two poems which always come to mind for me - when asked this question are;


Success does not always come

To the faster or stronger man

But sooner or later the winner is

The one who thinks they can




For when the one great scorer 

Comes to mark against your name

They note not whether you've won or lost

But how you played the game


They remind me that it's about helping children / young people to believe in themselves to have confidence but as well as the desire to win they should also play in the right spirit.  A win at all costs mentality is not healthy and in my experience can spill over into life outside sport.  Being successful at anything can take time and whilst this might involve hard work it's important to enjoy the journey too.


One of the things we often talk about at Energize is helping people to find an activity they love as we know that when they do that they will want to progress / improve and it will make a big difference to their life.  There are so many people who start the Couchto5k Programme not being able to run down the street and then go on to take part in marathons and ultras once they get the bug.  A big factor is the confidence that succeeding can bring - reminding me that sport and physical activity aren't just physical they're mental activities too - without inspiring the mind they become mindless and we lose interest.


I'm also reminded that inspiring positive attitude is not solely the responsibility of organisations like Energize but it requires all leaders / coaches / workforce and other significant adults to adopt positive approaches and to consider the individual when they are providing a pep talk or feedback.


We all have a role to play and as adults we can be very influential so I'm going to finish with something that we can all think about.  What's the first question you ask a child or young person after they have taken part in a sports competition?  Did you win or have a good time?  Did you play your best or score a goal?  Not saying don't ask about result but just think about it and where it fits in.  Of course not all children are the same and neither are all competitions but if we give some thought to the outcome that's most important we are more likely to be able to positively influence it?