Our 9 year old son Hugo played his first two games of roller hockey (hoquei patins) for the Vilafranca club today and what struck me is the same thing I am usually struck by at sporting events here: the atmosphere is one of congeniality.
Unlike children’s sport in some countries (such as England, where parents were banned from all state school sporting events because of abuse, fights and general nastiness) my impression of amateur sport in this part of the world is that it is for enjoyment not for the venting of spleen.
The atmosphere is civilized, the other parents are generally friendly (though sometimes a bit shy and cliquey) and the kids get a pleasant experience along with a healthy amount of fair competition.
As a teacher as well as a parent, this is not my first time with children doing sport so my opinion of the way it is done here is not just from this one day.
It seems likely to me that this amiability balanced with the right amount of seriousness to do well is one reason why Spain are current European and world champions. Amateur coaches are well-trained and largely well-respected instead of being blamed for results.
Some older kids in our son’s roller hockey club have a hand in training and looking after the younger players and this is not unusual at all. It helps those player-coaches to develop responsibility and is a natural way to give them time before they may become adult coaches.
I am looking forward to our son growing up in this kind of environment.