Children's health

Set4Sport: getting kids active from an early age

A new, sporty initiative by Judy Murray.

Child obesity and how to tackle it is a major issue these days.

Just this week, new research showed that obese, school-age children are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack when they grow up compared with children of a normal weight.

As a mother, I’m keen to get my children interested in sport to help keep them fit and healthy. It can be very easy to slump in front of a TV, or be driven to places instead of walking, but we want to encourage Olivia and William to have the sort of childhoods we both had; running around with friends, cycling, or playing football or rounders in the park.

A lot of mothers, I am sure, share this opinion and there’s one in particular who is helping families introduce sport in a fun way.

That mum is Judy Murray. I’m pretty sure she knows what she’s talking about; she’s raised one Wimbledon tennis champion (Jamie) and one Olympic gold medallist and US Open champion (Andy) after all.  Judy is passionate about getting children involved in fun physical activity to improve fitness and develop hand-eye co-ordination.

She’s developed an initiative called Set4Sport to do just this. It’s all about little, inexpensive games that families can do together and that children will find fun while also keeping them active.

Set4Sport event at London Zoo

Judy says her inspiration behind this initiative came from her own experiences of raising her family: “Set4Sport is a collection of some of the fun games that we played at home as a family when Jamie and Andy were very small. They were all created either in the house or garden [with] everyday household objects in order to keep 2 lively little boys busy and active, at minimal expense!

“By playing these kind of games regularly with your kids, parents can help them develop the physical skills they need to be able to play any sport reasonably competently when they are older.”

It’s certainly an admirable idea, especially when you consider that government cuts are reducing the amount of sport being played in schools and the time that P.E does get seems to be ever-squeezed.

Judy and her team have not only produced a book outlining the sorts of games mums and dads can play with their children, but they’ve also created a website as well as apps for smartphones, iPhones and iPads.  The best thing is, all of them are free!

Introducing Set4Sport to my kids.

Yesterday, I was given the chance to meet Judy in person at an event at London Zoo. It was a fun introduction to Set4Sport, which got our children trying out the simple games, which have been designed by Judy herself.

We met a handful of other families and we were all invited to try out a variety of Set4Sport games. The room was divided into sections with a number of games already set up. The children were shown how to play them by Judy and her team of fitness trainers. Olivia and William dived right in.

The one we liked best was the ‘tidy your room’ game where you spread toys around in a circle, put a box in the middle and encourage your child to put all the toys in the box as quickly as possible. I’ll certainly be trying to keep the enthusiasm for that going!

Set4Sport event at London Zoo

We actually didn’t have the best morning, but this wasn’t because of Set4Sport in any way. Olivia and William were tired and cranky thanks to a number of other factors. They were feeling a bit knackered after a day out at Legoland Windsor and Olivia had only just gotten over an ear infection. I think they probably also thought the room was a little too loud (bless them and their sensitive ears).

Needless to say, they both became fairly grumpy and irritable after a while.  They sat out the last few activities, desperate for lunchtime to arrive. It wasn’t all bad though, it gave William a chance to scrutinise the Set4Sport book, which is filled with games that families can play together.

Judy told me that she devised Set4Sport for children aged 3 to 8. This is because after the age of 8, kids tend to choose for themselves what they want to do whereas before then, it tends to be parents signing their children up to try different sports. She says Set4Sport will work best in this early years ‘sporting experimentation’ phase.

Personally, I don’t think Set4Sport needs to be restricted to this specific age range. Yes, most of the games are slightly too advanced for my 18-month-old son, but they can be easily simplified to suit his needs.

Judy also said that Set4Sport is a great way to get parents spending some good, fun quality time with their children. That’s a win-win situation I’d say.

I left London Zoo that day with a promise in my head to make time to use the Set4Sport book to play some fun games with Olivia and William. These games use everyday household items and toys and can be set up extremely quickly and easily.

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You can find out more about Set4Sport by visiting the website, or download the app from either the App store (for iPhones, iPads etc.) or Google Play (for android smartphones).

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