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Showing the passion
Annabel Croft
Former tennis star and television presenter Annabel Croft explains that healthy competition from an early age is a positive thing.

I didn't just play tennis when I was younger.

I did ballet quite seriously until I was about 12 and I did a bit of riding.

I took tennis up when I was nine and found myself in the same situation I'm in with my kids now.

As a child you aren't aware of it but as a parent you end up spending your life in the car taking them everywhere to play sport.

I've turned into a taxi service. I literally spend the whole of Saturday in the car, ferrying them around.

But supporting a child in their sport in such a massive part of their development.

I do remember my parents saying to me, "you have to decide what you want to devote your time to."

So my parents didn't have a hand in choosing tennis for me, they actually asked me what I wanted to do.

There was no question it was going to be tennis, it was just the sport I enjoyed the most.


I have three kids now. I've got a daughter who is 10 who does dance, a sportsmad son who is eight and my youngest daughter is a very good gymnast.

I guess my kids were always going to be sporty because both me and my husband have always been involved in sport.

They've watched us running or playing tennis so they've naturally wanted to emulate us I suppose.

I'm quite dedicated to them and watch sometimes but I prefer to drop them off and leave them to it.

Annabel Croft at Wimbledon where, at 15, she was the youngest Briton to play there for 100 years

I'm not one who stands over the balcony and watches their every move.

That said I do offer my kids advice and my son does get quite wound up if he doesn't win things.

But I don't mind it because I think if someone's that passionate about sport then it's not a bad thing.

Sport is all about passion so if you get upset about it, it shows you care. I don't think it's something that you need to get rid of.

I think it's quite unusual these days for children to find things that they are that desperate about.

Positive competition

Sport is a fantastic confidence builder, it's healthy and great for the mind to help with things like school work.

It give them a sense of purpose, competition and dedication.

I think things have become a bit politically correct when people say that competition isn't healthy and you can't have one person beating another.

I think that's a load of rubbish. Life is competitive; whatever you're after in life you're going to be up against people who want the same thing.

So I think if kids can do healthy competition from an early age then it's a very positive step.

Seeing the thrill that my kids from playing sport gives me incredible pride and I love the fact that sport will hopefully be a part of their lives forever.

I'd love it if they went on to be professional sports men or women. Sport has been such a fantastic door opener for me even though I quit tennis quite early.

I got to travel the world, meet amazing people and it's given me so many wonderful opportunities - sport can do so much for you.

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It's totally unnecessary to buy expensive boots or kit. They'll need another pair in six months when their bodies have grown.
A Shields, cricket coach and father


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