After London 2012, the whole country was abuzz with sport. We celebrated our athletes, how proud we all were of being British, and the legacy that those amazing Games gave us.
After being so inspired, I wanted to do something that would be my own kind of legacy. Knowing the positive things that sport has brought to my life, I wanted to help other parents, who are the mainstays for young athletes. Let’s face it: without the emotional and financial support, taxi services, hours of watching from the side lines, worrying, cajoling, feeding and encouraging that parents provide, our potential future stars wouldn’t get the start they need.
Alternatively, parents can simply introduce their children to activities that will hopefully set them up for a life with sport in it. I’m very grateful to my own parents for the crucial part they played in my career.
So why me, and why this website? Well, I’ve kind of been there and bought the T-shirt I guess. I was a swimmer who competed in my first Olympic Games aged just 13, and my last at 30. That’s a three-decade period – 20 years of racing at the top level.
I’ve also worked poolside at seven Olympic Games’ in the media, and was part of the London 2012 bid team, as well as a Team GB Ambassador. What’s more, I have a daughter who, last year, represented England in Track and Field. I also have a son who was at Millfield on a rugby scholarship for four years, and a little one who, at 7, is just beginning his sporting journey.
I meet parents all the time who ask me questions that I want to try and answer, so what better place to do it than here with the help of my sporting friends and other professionals.
This isn’t just a site for the parents of young elite athletes; it’s for every parent who wants their child to benefit from having sport in their life.
This isn’t just a site for the parents of young elite athletes; it’s for every parent who wants their child to benefit from having sport in their life, from little tots to 18-year-olds. There will be something for everyone, and if what you want isn’t here, let us know and we’ll do our best to help you, or find a place that can!
I’ve spent 40 years in and around sport at every level, and I have a huge number of friends and colleagues to call on who will help me to help you. I’m passionate about what sport can do for all of us, and I believe that what we show our children, in their early years, is the way we ‘hotwire’ them forever. That’s a big responsibility.
Many parents just want to get their kids involved in sport for fitness and to make friends; others need more advice on nutrition, coaching problems, facilities, funding or reoccurring injuries to name just a few potential minefields. We can’t promise to answer every single question but, if we can’t, we probably know someone who can, and that’s also why I wanted the all important forum.
I’ve found that one of the best sources of information is other parents: our forum gives you guys a way to start helping each other. I also want to ask the parents of our successful athletes what their secrets are, and their advise via short films and blogs. I want to make sure you have all the links you might need to the important associations that do such a great job of running our different sports, and to the government organisations that support and guide with initiatives and events.
In short, I want to create a ‘one stop shop’ that you can dip into, search for guidance, and help direct you towards expert advice from others around the country. I want to tap into the knowledge that we as parents have gathered between us.
We will have a team of experts giving their professional advice and tips, and ex-athletes’ blogs and insight into what worked for them, information on try sessions, free sessions and family events. More than anything, Parents4sport is a place where we as parents can share knowledge with each other for the good of our kids.
Of course, the site will grow and I have loads of other ideas. But, most importantly, I want to ask you what you want to know so we can find out for you…
Yours in sport,