Organised School Sport in South Africa for Children and Adolescents: COVID-19 and Beyond

POSTED: May 4, 2021Category: News, COVID-19BY: Steve

Regular participation in exercise, sport and physical activity offers many proven benefits for children and adolescents. Beyond just the obvious physical advantages, physical activity plays an important role in promoting mental health and well-being and social development in children. Schools provide many opportunities for physical activity, in the form of structured and unstructured play, as physical education within the formal academic curriculum or through informal and formal organised sport, including competitive intra- or inter-school activity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly restricted these opportunities for children and adolescents to meet the World Health Organisation’s recommendations of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each day. Re-introducing physical activity in the school setting, including formal organised sport, should be made possible during different phases of a pandemic such as this. This is important, not only because of the numerous physical and mental health benefits associated with being physically active (Eime et al., 2013) but because sport teaches life skills including the development of personal discipline and problem-solving.

Participation in organised, school-based sport has also been shown to improve self-esteem (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2018) and social skills such as teamwork, fairness and inclusion. Further, children who participate in sports gain a sense of belonging, of self-respect and respect for others. They are also less likely to become involved in risk-taking behaviours (Eime et al., 2013, Kelly et al., 2020).

Click Here to view and download a policy briefing by Rhodes University and the University of Kwazulu-Natal on school sports in South Africa.

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