Sports enthusiasts hightlight the importance of sport for children during lockdown

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Sports plays an important role in a person’s life. Not only does it improve your health, but it opens the doors to an entirely new world. A world of friendship, self-discipline, and the yearning for success.

During the lockdown, many sports have taken a backseat. Leaving sporting enthusiasts itching to return to their beloved sports. As several sports enthusiasts find themselves maintaining their fitness levels at home, why is sports so important? Especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Konrad Erasmus is a local MMA enthusiast, who began his journey in the MMA world 10 years ago.

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Image submitted.

He started his journey in Ermelo with his first coach, Pierre Aucamp, who also judged in EFC later.

“It seemed like a good way to get rid of daily frustrations and keep fit at the same time. We mostly trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ),” he explains.

Konrad explains his initial progress in the MMA world was relatively slow and involved a lot of hard work. Especially as he moved from Ermelo to Johannesburg.

“It took a while to hone my skills and build a good balance between striking and grappling. But as soon as I did, I started competing in Open mats in BJJ and won a few medals, competing against high ranked MMA fighters in grappling.”

He then decided to test his metal in the cage against some warriors, as to see what he was made of.

“My career has been filled with ups and downs, but I can never feel more alive than when that cage door shuts behind me and that bell rings. Learning that you are not made of glass and that you actually stand a chance in the fight is amazing and addictive,” he enthuses.

What are some of the highlights he has experienced in the MMA world?

“Definitely fighting in a great international league such as MFC down in Durban, win or lose, in front of 100s of spectators and airing on international tv,” he says.

Other highlights are having one of his students selected to compete in the South African National MMA team in Russia. As well as rubbing shoulders and training with the best fighters across South Africa and becoming one of a few Coaches who completed Level 1 IMMAF.

How tough is MMA training?

“If you don’t think you’re going to die at least three times an hour and feel sick to your stomach at least once, then you are doing something wrong. The training is intense, because in any scenario where you have to fight, fear drains your energy and you can literally get completely tired before even lifting a finger. That is why we learn to fight tired.”

Konrad runs his own club, TNS, which joined with Newactive Gold over a year ago. While the club is growing monthly, training has come to a standstill due to the lockdown. So how has Konrad being staying fit?

“Unfortunately, I am still in my six-week recovery period after a neck operation. But I will be back to training as soon as it is safe to open.”

While he is unable to train, Konrad says the lockdown has affected MMA.

“It has had a negative impact on our fitness and drills and we’ll have to put in double time to get back to the standard we were before the lockdown.”

Why does Konrad feel it is important for children to participate in MMA?

“The best age to start is 12. This is so you are fully developed and to minimise injuries. MMA is good for self- discipline, self-defence and building character.”

Furthermore, Konrad feels it is important for children to remain active during the lockdown. This he explains, is to help them focus. Konrad encourages youngsters to stay fit and strong. As well as doing any activities to better hand-eye co-ordination, training core muscles and improve their balance.

Johny Masmingo is a professional tennis coach at St Dominics Newcastle. His journey in the sports world began years ago; while teaching in Frankfurt.

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During this time, he coached athletics, cross country and tennis. Johny says he also introduced road running to the Namahadi township. Going as far as to eventually start the Namahadi Champs, a road running club.

Johny eventually retired in 2014, moving to Newcastle and doing a course on sports coaching and fitness through Boston College. He then started Johny’s Tennis Academy in Arbor Park. However, he was offered a position with Curro and now coaches’ tennis at St Dominics Newcastle.

During the lockdown, Johny has been maintaining his fitness levels through regular jogs and practising tennis with his grandson.

While he has now resumed coaching, as tennis is allowed to be played under the current level 3 regulations, why does Johny feel sport is important during the lockdown?

“Children are active beings and if they don’t remain active, they get bored and stressed. Sports is good for children mentally and spiritually, as it allows them to burn off their excess energy and focus.”

Through sports allowing children to burn off pent up stress and energy, Johny says children tend to feel more refreshed after a good practice session.

Therefore, Johny encourages parents to try and involve their children in physical activities such as tennis, as it will give them the ideal opportunity to unwind now as they deal with the pandemic.

Rishi Nanan is a facilitator for KFC Mini-Cricket in Newcastle. A man who prides himself on fitness and the importance of cricket.

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Rishi Nanan with Graeme Smith. (image submitted).

However, Rishi explains he was not always a cricket enthusiast. “As a youngster, I used to see sport as a hobby and never even considered trying to reach my full potential as a cricket player. One of the reasons for this is, my family’s sport of choice was always soccer.”

But as he grew older, he began seeing the beauty of cricket.

“During my teenage years, I started playing cricket. But back in those years, cricket was seen as a rich person’s sport as the equipment was more costly and soccer was more affordable.”

Then during his adult years, he found himself pursuing local cricket and volunteered to be a facilitator for the local KFC Mini-Cricket scene.

Since throwing himself into the cricket scene, he has met scores of prominent cricket players, such as Graeme Smith, Dolphins Inland players Athi Maphosa and Kerwin Mungroo, as well as Shane Burger and Kurtlyn Mannikam.

Rishi explains that while mini cricket has currently come to a standstill, he is still pushing himself. “I train at home, working on my fitness levels, while also training with my daughter.”

Playing cricket with his daughter at home ensures she maintains the necessary skills for the cricket pitch, for when children are able to resume mini cricket.

But why does Rishi feel sports such as cricket is so important, especially during the lockdown period?

“Sports is especially important during this time, as children are not getting enough physical activity. They are busy loafing around now. It is important to realise that sports creates a balance in one’s life.”

He adds that his wife, who coaches mini cricket alongside him, is a teacher and she has noticed a drastic change in children’s schoolwork after they take up sports such as cricket. They become more focused and determined in class.

Furthermore, he explains cricket helps with a child’s hand and eye coordination. It also improves their agility and creates an awareness of working alongside others.

 “With not much sports going on at schools now, is going to make it challenging for children to adjust, due to the role it plays in their fitness, concentration. As well as the role it plays in stress relief,” he concludes.

As three sports enthusiasts hightlight importance of sports during these trying times, be sure to encourage your child to get active today.

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