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Posted 29/08/2017 in Family by Alphonse Rutayisire

The Joys and Challenges Of Raising An Athlete Child

The Joys and Challenges Of Raising An Athlete Child

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step (LAO TZU)"

What would be your response if your son or daughter asks you: Dad, would you want to support me on my way to becoming XYZ? Depending on the parent’s value and belief systems, the responses can vary. Wouldn't you imagine that a straight YES would be the obvious answer? I bet some parents could say "YES BUT". There is a possibility that some others could utter the words like NO. Would you perhaps want to seek further clarifications before you respond? But seriously, what would you say?

And what will you do if the XYZ is so crystal clear to him that after hearing it, you have no further clarifications to seek? Will you go out for it and do whatever it takes to support your child's goal? I mean whatever it takes: financially, socially, emotionally, intellectually, physically, spiritually, mentally, health wise etc

Financial Support

If you are a parent of an athlete child, you know what I mean. Some people may argue here and I am happy to take the criticism constructively. I feel qualified to make a comment on the matter due to a five years experience on the subject. Some parents have even started earlier than that. So, what's the big deal, might you ask? The support of a child development ambition in meaningful sports cost money: club fees, weekly game fees, tournament fees all year round both locally and nationally. The toughest fees for a low income to an average parent are the airfares, accommodation, and inter-states tournaments. Sometimes, for the lucky ones, international games and or tour fees apply provided your child has made is thus far. Get me right here, there is no one to blame here, this is just how the system works.

I am talking about the journey that I have undergone not the one ahead of me. If you are a parent with an athletic child, don't despair so much. You will meet the good, the bad and the ugly situations where you are inclined to ask the wrong questions to yourself?

Somehow nature has a way to respond when the right questions are asked. What is clear to me though, whatever money you spend on in child's sporting activities is worth it. For the child development, the benefits are huge and I will write a separate blog on this.

Social Support

In South Africa, there is lovely proverb: “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”. This means that a person is a person because of others. Oh, what a wisdom!

In this life style of being a parent supporting an athletic child, you get to meet some good and not so kind people out there. And this should be no surprise to anyone who has been involved in kids sporting activities. If you need to fundraise for the team, you have to be available and be a team player also. In Australia, a sport is an amazing channel for people who naturally have a gift to socialize. Over the last 7 years living here as a new skilled migrant, I have met exceptional people.


If you are the kind of person that does not enjoy meeting new people, you have a big challenge. If you think that the only good people that exist are your family members or the ones from your country of birth or people you already know, then think again.

Personally, I have a new definition of what it really means to be or have a family but this is a big topic that warrants a complete blog on its own.

In Australia, stadiums are full of people whose dreams are similar to yours and that is to see their child develop well and they have chosen sport as a means to an end.

In other words, not everyone wants to become the next Michael Jordon or Lebron James.

As a parent, your existing social circles will miss you and you will be unavailable to them whenever they want you. The good news is that you can quickly develop better and even more meaningful relations with new people you come across as you engage in various local clubs and national events and activities.


Emotional Support

If you child hand coordinations are not so good yet and you can see that this is true, would you want to hear someone else emphasize this weakness for instance? What if you child has been told by some coach that he is not good enough? Let’s change the gear and ask a positive question: How do you emotional support a child whose dream is to become the next Kevin Durant? Make no mistakes most kids have this kind of dream and this is where the job of parents and coaches becomes really challenging. You can't say stop that dream dear child. If you see sports coaches, you owe them respect. These individuals have so much power over your child's self-esteem and development in general that any small mistake in the child's psyche could be irreversible. Coaches, your job is admirable, even when you sometimes may not feel so. Parents entrust their kids to you and, granted, your job is not easy, but remember that kids talk to their parents some of whom are experts in their field. If I were to rate the job of a coach, I would definitely classify emotional support as one of the top two areas in terms of helping the kid see the light at the end of a tunnel. Kids know and feel it when coaches are inconsistent or are applying favoritism. History has shown time and time again that heroes just don't all of sudden appear on earth. These are individuals who survive hardships, who are resilient and have a vision of themselves, a clear path and strategy to accomplish what needs to be accomplished at all cost even when it means giving up life. This is why heroes refuse to be molded into the common denominator of everyone else.

Some coaches are so good at helping kids set the direction for themselves. For instance: running kids goal setting workshops while working hand in hand with parents. What reward would you give a coach who raises up a child’s esteem to a level where parents cannot reach and get?


Intellectual Support

Accompanying my son through the journey of discovery about what he wants to accomplish in life, something that which used to be a chicken and egg conundrum, became clear to me. You don't become the next Lebron James without having proven high intellectual abilities throughout your schooling years. It is ruthless out there and my hope for all children pursuing this dream is that they can make it very clear to themselves about what comes first. This illustration may not fit well but those concerned know what I am talking about. You don't take any A Grade student in a one hundred filled stadium. I truly don’t know why not as this could be a great inspiring event for generations to come. Similarly, people don't spend thousands of dollars to come watch A students playing bad basketball, If I may say. They come to enjoy a game, a world class professional sport. There could be exceptions but the condition “sine qua non” (latin word for Indispensable) is to do extremely well in school. You have to be both A or B student and a world class player, at least this is should be your benchmark. Period.


Physical Support


It is not about being a nice person or a good looking one. And yes, I am not referring to the normal school physical exercises or the training workouts undertaken by club coaches and other professional sporting activities that kids go through. Mind you, all these are big pieces to the puzzle. You miss one of them and you have an unresolved puzzle challenge.

Parents are also responsible for the sizeable part of their children’s physical development. From the quality of their kids' school lunches to the so called ‘good treats” or commonly called junk food and anything in between. And you only need to travel nationally away from home to understand what I am talking about. There are tournaments where parents are 100 % in charge of their own kids and it is during these times where even an amateur in nutrition will think twice before they feed their child with junk food on a second heavy day of interstate games. Very soon, a new parent gets to learn the value of sleep as the child needs to rest and recover particularly when there are more than 2 games being played in a single day. The last thing you want to do is to get your child to walk 30 minutes to a stadium on one of those 3 games days. These are but few items on the physical aspect of your commitment when you accept to support your child in sports and I am not talking about driving at least 4 hours a day arriving at home at 11 pm just so this dream can become a reality one day. Talk about lack of commitment and I will fist you up!!

Spiritual Support

You know, I studied high school in a Marist Brother’s boarding school for 6 years and; aiming to become a Catholic Priest, I spent in religious life a good number of years enough to acquire a degree and was born in a Christian family. The best time I have spent in my adult life, as far as I know, is the time I spent in the Oblates Novitiate formation house in Johannesburg. This is where I have learned and heard the voice of what it really means to be called: not to become a priest but a faithful married man. Why this story? Might you ask?

I am sharing this story so that you can understand what it means to be a spiritual parent always going to church on Sunday and then suddenly, you can no longer do this because you have to take your child to different training venues and events at the same time you are supposed to be in church. If you live in Australia and you have a child in a sport, this is no news for you. But if you live elsewhere, and you think that I am kidding, welcome on board. Consequently, as a parent, you have to find, at all cost, a way to have a child develop a special relationship with God. You see, as a human, you cannot die if you skip applying lotion on your body for one day, two days or week. In fact, I know of some cultures where body lotion is considered an unmanly taboo. So body lotion is an accessory. Then you have water. 70 % of our body is" you guessed it: water. Sure enough, you will survive a couple of days without water but be careful. Dehydration is not fun. So, water is necessary for us humans. Lastly, oxygen. Yes, oxygen. Deprive yourself of oxygen and see what happens. You will be a super hero to live without oxygen for a couple of minutes. What I mean here is that oxygen to a human body is essential.

So, what the heck has this got anything to do with a parent's commitment to providing spiritual guidance to their own child? Because spirituality is a whole human integral development what oxygen is to a human body. Forgive me here, this is a debatable topic and please do not feel offended on this if you don't agree. I am only sharing my experience.


Mental Support

Oh, My God. Can I say this: a person is a mind! If you are a parent with an athletic kid, if you are a coach, a spectator or lover or supporter of any team, you know what it is to be watching thousands and thousands of kids playing each other. In my opinion, this is an ultimate place to be as we demonstrate to our kids how much we support and love them. While kids are taught to be team players and avoid individualistic game types, I have not seen a parent watching other parent’s kids while their very own is playing next door. All parents want to provide this mental support, cheering and encouraging their kid. And you only notice the power of this sort of support when either a kid himself or herself is retelling the account of how the game went: good or bad, you have to listen with empathy and undivided attention.

There are times you attend tournaments particularly the interstates ones where you wonder whether there is any kind of similar age that had remained home. Much to my surprise though, as highlighted above, I am absolutely convinced that thousands upon thousands of kids do not have this exposure.

Health and Fitness Support

There is one practice that I have found extremely admirable in the circle of basketball clubs here in Australia. If a child sustains a not- life threatening injury, there is no such thing as missing training sessions or games. Of course, the kid seats on the bench but participates in all other active listening endeavors, unless of course he or she cannot manage. As a parent, you will still need to drive hours to/from stadium. This is amazing and if this level of commitment can be applied into adult professional or career life in general, success will almost be guaranteed.


If you want to argue about the benefits of your child participating in sports, I suggest you google this first. You will not even need to see a specialist physician to prescribe this. And if you are the kind of parent that loves gadgets and TV and Internet, then I am here to suggest that kids watching TV for long hours may be more disadvantaged in relation to those in a stadium. As a specialist in technology with over 15 years’ experience, I don't want to read further books to understand both the positive and negative effects of an uncontrolled internet use by children. Parents, if you have an option, choose to send the kids to games over letting them sit in front of a computer for internet games etc. I am not talking about homework here. You know what I mean.


So, now that you have read my story and the explanation of the reasons why parents would do whatever it takes to support their kid’s goals, what is your answer to my original question? “Dad, would you want to support me on my way to becoming XYZ?”


Well, now you know my answer. And it is a YES. There is no right or wrong answer, it is all circumstantial.  As a matter of fact, I have created a page where you, as a friend, can support me on this mission as well. Let’s us rally behind this young man, let us send him forth in the universe with a mission to succeed and make life not only for himself but also for anyone who will come across him in future.


So, how to support Aime?


Some friends and family friends have asked how they can help and to make it easier for them, I have created a basic 2 min secure donation support page where you will be able to express your unwavering “Go Forth Son Well wishes” as he embarks on a new journey to study high school in the USA. You need your credit card handy and you can donate from anywhere in the world. You will know it is legit when you see the latest young looking version" of me on the same page. And you will even be more convinced when you see Aime's picture that you have never seen anywhere else other than on the confirmation page. I promise this picture will speak to your heart.  


Following this, you will be invited to belong to a closed mastermind group where we will get to follow Aime's development and offer moral and mental support to the best of our ability. Here we will share videos, photos and news worthy items to know. This area will be an important resource for personal development, good family moral ideas, and content, career info, business opportunities, professional development links and useful resources only issues related to the group members interests.

We will turn Facebook into a personal platform as opposed to public. Together we can turn Facebook into something admirable for ourselves.


This will not just be a Facebook friend’s page. Further, I am planning to expose and share some of the things I have ever studied in my last 15 years working in different continents, supporting organizations and helping to solve complex technology, business and project problems.

If you have a business and you are reading this, get in touch with me. I help startups to overcome digital transformation challenges. So, let’s build a community of mutual respect, a community of ambitious people, exemplary Mums and Dads and who are looking to better themselves and make an impact on the world around us through the support of children.

Finally, if you have and plan to support any athlete child, there are few words that you will really need to welcome: fundraising, donation, and support. If you have ever bought a sausage at Bunnings or similar place, you have not just fed yourself alone, you have made a positive impact to someone you don't even know but it worth it, 100%. But think about it: this kind of act does make the world a better place to live in.