Kent Families Putting Sport Centre Stage
Habit, enjoyment and fun are seen as key to an enduring active lifestyle. As we get set to celebrate Father’s Day this month, we meet four families here in Kent putting sport centre stage.
Darrell and Darcey Carter share a passion for cricket, although, as dad admits, any successes are now more likely to come from his 13-year-old daughter. Darrell, who’s been playing for decades and now represents the Kent over-40s at Chestfield Cricket Club in Whitstable, reached minor counties level earlier in his playing career before family and career took over.
“I used to be a fast bowler but, these days, not so much,” says Darrell, who is clearly pleased his daughter and her brother Finlay, 12 – currently in the Kent under-12 squad – have inherited his interest in the sport. When the season starts we’re playing five or six times a week,” adds Darrell. “We never go on holiday during the summer – cricket always comes first.”
Speaking about his daughter – who made the Kent girl’s squad at the age of nine – Darrell says: “She has more determination than I’ve ever had. She plays men’s cricket without a care and watching her stand up to any bowler makes me immensely proud.”
And of her dad, Darcey says: “Cricket is just something I do. Dad taught me I could do anything if I tried and he never treated me differently to my brother so I never noticed I was the only girl in the team.”
“I always loved football growing up but like a lot of people my involvement stopped in my 20s. I still watched the sport but that was it,” says Jamie Clark. “As a father of three boys I was really pleased when my eldest Stan, 12, started playing for our local team Tankerton FC. And when my middle child Albie, 10, began to play and the club was looking for coaches I got involved.”
Jamie started managing the under-sevens and the club encouraged him to undertake his FA Level 1 coaching badge. “I’ve kept with my team up to under-10s and next year at under-11s we are moving to the East Kent League. I’ve also taken my FA Level 2 coaching badge,” adds Jamie, whose youngest son Raffie, eight, is now playing. In addition mum, Nancy, is involved in the administration of Stan’s team.
“I absolutely love all aspects of what we do and we have great support from parents. In such a hectic world I find football is a really great way of us all spending quality time together as a family.”
• For more details on the club and how to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For Ian Edmonds and his 14-year-old son Elliot boxing has turned into a shared passion. “I first tried boxing when I was seeing personal trainers in London but more recently I’ve been having dedicated lessons with ex-professional Tommy Kotrla at Halo Gym in Tunbridge Wells,” says Ian. “Around the same time Elliot, having done various sports at school, wanted to try something different so also began training with Tommy.”
Both father and son are keen to highlight the benefits of boxing. For Ian, it represents a workout that keeps you mentally alert while at the same time providing a great way for the mind to switch off. And for Elliot it’s all about acquiring new skills and developing strength and fitness.
“I started two years ago when I was 12 and have sessions every week,” says Elliot who now gives Dad a run for his money in the ring as he masters more complex combinations.
“An awful lot has to do with the trainer,” adds Ian. “Tommy has a huge amount of experience and enthusiasm. He’s totally passionate about boxing – and never stops smiling! He makes the sessions fun, is incredibly encouraging and has really inspired Elliot’s confidence.
“Like most people our lives are busy but we enjoy going to boxing together. From my perspective, I get to see Elliot’s skills improve and being trained by someone like Tommy really makes it something we always look forward to.”
Playtime first, screen time last
As a personal trainer with 20 years’ experience and clients ranging in age from 12 to 73, Justin Jones makes no excuses for taking his work home. “As a family, we work on the basis exercise is a completely normal part of our lives. Human beings are meant to be moving, not sitting on our backsides,” says the father of daughters aged 11 and five and a three-year-old son.
“Having fun is an essential part of the equation as this helps children learn and makes them more likely to continue when they’re older. I’ve met many people over the years put off exercise by having to do a sport they simply didn’t enjoy.”
We have a huge problem in this country with inactive, technology-obsessed young people. What advice has Justin for parents? “Lead by example. Children learn more by observing what their parents do than by what they say, so if they see you exercising or taking part in sport, they’re more likely to do so themselves. If you’re sitting on the sofa absorbed in your phone they’ll see that too,” says Justin. “Make exercise a habit by tagging it on to an existing routine. We try to go to a soft play area or park after school rather than going straight home. It’s playtime first, screen time last.
“One of my biggest parenting mistakes was giving my eldest a phone at the age of eight. The evidence is mounting increased screen time is correlated with poorer social, physical and emotional development. We need a break as parents but the more we can keep exercise and activity in our lives the better for them and us.”
• Contact Justin Jones on 07429 874025 or via his Facebook page facebook.com/activechoiceuk
The healing power of sport
Sands United is a football team established by a group of dads who’ve lost a child with the aim of bringing together men who’ve all experienced the same grief. The team trains on Tuesday evenings at Maplesden Noakes School in Maidstone and there’s no pressure to talk – people can just turn up and play a sport they enjoy.
Player-manager Mike Pollard says: “Sands United was set up as a way to get dads to talk after the loss of a baby. The emphasis is usually on the mums and, as vital as that is, there isn’t a great deal of support for dads.”
In October 2017 Mike’s wife gave birth to twin boys who were stillborn. Last year, the couple found out they were expecting again. However in August, they had another stillborn baby. “Everyone has their own situation,” comments Mike. “There are so many different stories, so many unique experiences but there’s nothing better than knowing on our message group you can just put a note saying, ‘I’m having a really bad day’ and the boys are there for you and know what to say.”