Parents In Sport Week - Rachael Mackenzie
Posted: Mon, 02 Oct 2017 09:10
Rachael Mackenzie - Former Thai-boxing champion & current England boxer and British boxing champion.
"Last week I took my 70 year old dad for a run, I haven't had the opportunity to run with my dad for quite a few years, and given that he now draws a pension I decide we should take it easy. We run a steady few miles and on the home straight my dad informs me that he likes to finish every run with a 400m sprint. Not a problem I think, after all I'm an elite athlete. We hit the 400m marker…….and he leaves me for dust. Both my parents instilled in me the work ethic that led to my success firstly as a Thai-boxer and now as a boxer.
Neither of my parents directed my participation, they allowed me to follow my own path but they led by example. As a child my siblings and I were encouraged to play any sport available, our holidays were built around playing the hotel tennis tournaments, ping-pong games and swimming. We were encouraged to persevere when it was difficult, shown the principles of team work and working hard, of showing up when you've made a commitment and of always finding enjoyment in what you are doing, but by far the most valuable lesson my parents gave to me was that of humility. The understanding that no matter your success, no matter how good you are in that moment there are always things to learn and that every coach, every team mate and every teacher has something valuable to offer your development. Now, as a parent myself and an athlete who continues to compete for England, the most powerful influence I have on my own children is to role model those qualities of success.
Our children learn by observing our behaviour, I want my children to understand that I don't grow as an athlete by trying to bring those around me down, I want them to see me observing the rules of the gym and abiding by our code of conduct, me learning from the other boxers, for them to see me sharing my knowledge and lifting all those around me. For them to understand that I am not successful by chance but that success is the result of working hard every day and that they too can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves because success does not arise from being unique or special but from making positive choices every day. Above all I hope they see that participation in sport and physical activity is fun, that it makes you feel strong and happy and that they too find a sport they can enjoy for life. As an athlete I've spent the last 20 years pushing to become World class, what I've learnt along that journey is that the desire to pursue elite sport must come from the athlete, so as a parent I'm working hard to allow my children to learn first to love sport and to find sports they will enjoy for life and not to transfer my desire to always win on to their participation.
My advice for parents is to lead by example, find joy in participation for yourself and when your support your child show them the importance of respecting the skill of the coaches, allow them to learn self-reflection, give them space to grow independence, don't compare their journey with that of the child next door, teach them the power of a growth mindset but most importantly show them love and encouragement regardless of any results"