Keeping it in the family
The stunning Victorian architecture of Better’s Marshall Street Leisure Centre in Central London provided the backdrop for a recent Swimathon site visit. Whilst standing poolside, local Swimathon organiser Dave told of his favourite Swimathon moment when a family of 4 took on the Team 5k Challenge.
He spoke of pride in the parents eyes as their kids ploughed up and down the pool striving to reach their goal and receive a coveted Swimathon medal, their pride matched only by Dave’s satisfaction in seeing the event he had overseen create such a privately inspirational moment.
Whilst chatting to Dave, it struck me that a child’s first foray into participation sport and all of the associated benefits will so often come through the motivation of parents or wider family. We know that Swimathon as an event has a core audience focussed on family participation but it is certainly not alone in that market.
The rise of parkrun has seen kids eagerly await 9am on a Saturday morning as they run their 5k, matching mum and dad stride for stride. Indeed, a number of Limelighters talk fondly of exercising alongside their kids and the mutual benefits of participating as a family.
And it’s not just the taking part, head down to any mass participation event and you will likely see kids enthusiastically cheering on the ‘grown ups’ with homemade signs and squeals of delight as mum or dad shoots on past, just about mustering a smile depending on how near the finish line they find themselves!
And how about post event, once said child is posing with mum or dad’s medal back at home? What then? In that exact moment, ask them whether they think they might want to take part when they’re a bit older. Look for the glint in their eyes and the answer will most likely be a resounding yes.
It’s all too easy to assume that participation sport is for the enthusiast, the slightly obsessive individual prepared to put in hours of training to achieve their goal.
They’re the one that we’re really targeting events at right? Wrong – although of course these people are part of it, the marketplace is so much broader than that and the opportunities to reach a huge family audience are plentiful. And major brands can reap the benefits of this too, both right now and long into the future.
London 2012 talked about inspiring a generation through golden performances from the elite athletes of Team GB, perhaps our kid’s heroes and inspirations are a little closer to home.