A charity using sport to teach many of life’s valuable lessons and change young people in a positive way.
A group of talented local sportsmen, coaches and educators have banded together to create Life Through Sport – a programme to help young athletes focus their talents but also make sure they are successful in all aspects of their lives, no matter their circumstances.
“Sports provide an avenue and an opportunity to help prepare our young people for life,” said Ralph Bean, Life Through Sport chairman and a founding member. “Our specific focus is to help the young men struggling in today’s workforce and economy by providing guidance in the areas of education, career readiness and personal finance.”
So while football brings the players to the charity, the lessons through sports – hard work, determination, practice, discipline and team work – all help prepare them for the “necessary skills to navigate life.”
“Our belief is that the path that makes the most sense for many of our young athletes is to use their sporting and athletic talents to provide opportunities for tertiary education and even job and career opportunities through networking,” said Mr Bean.
Through participating in sports, athletes learn about healthy competition, how to react to adversity, how to handle losses, problem solving abilities and leadership – all incredibly important skills to have to ensure success, whether in a career or their personal relationships.
The group, which comprises some of Bermuda’s top football players, educators and charity workers, came together in 2016 after discussions about some of the issues they were seeing within sports on the Island and interactions they had with players.
Along with small group training sessions, Life Through Sport also run a successful summer programme, which is geared towards developing young student athletes.
But the programme also recognizes that not every player intends to go “the academic route and therefore we have initiatives that focus on preparing for the workforce and developing soft skills such as interviewing, seeking training and apprenticeship opportunities and resume building,” explained Mr Bean.
The past year has created some challenges for the group’s programmes, including the postponement of a six-week financial literacy seminar that was set to start in September. But the group sees these as “minor setbacks” to the larger work of the charity’s mission.
While there have been incredible opportunities for many of Bermuda’s athletes, the reality is that it will only be a very small percentage that ever go off to become a professional athlete, and Mr Bean noted that even then an athletic career doesn’t last long.
“So it’s important for young athletes to develop themselves off the pitch as well, so that they can function and navigate in the real world.
“We see sports as the proverbial carrot to get the attention of individuals,” he said. “Our target is young men in general, but most young Bermudians participate in sports, football in particular, at some point in their lives, and so that is the most likely place that we will reach and connect with them.”