Nadia Rahim, Playball Doha owner and head coach, talks to Jessica Bailey Ackerman about how the company is getting children in Doha more involved in physical activity.
Is it just us or have you noticed that kids these days are living increasingly sedentary lifestyles? Back in our day we’d play outside, build tree houses, play hopscotch or attempt cricket with fallen fruit in our garden. From experience, plums were never a good idea. Somewhere between our childhood and becoming a fully-functioning adult, the ‘Tech-Era’ took over.
Touch screens, portable devices, phones that double as mini computers, 3D games, kiddie laptops – the list goes on; technology has taken over.
As we bring children into this so-called ‘Tech-Era’, it’s important that we don’t forget that a bit of sport is not only good physically, but socially as well. But how do we get young children taking up sport?
Playball Doha is just the solution. It is a sports and movement programme that aims to get children moving. Hailing from South Africa, Playball has been in existence for over 25 years, and is rapidly growing in Doha.
Nadia Rahim, Head Coach and owner of the Playball Doha franchise, explains that the concept is as much about education as physical activity: ‘Playball is different from other sports programmes as we have a large educational component. We use sport as a medium to teach children different skills, whether they be sports skills or life skills to reinforce what they are learning in school, by using things like colours and counting in the different activities’.
The programmes are tailored to suit the different age groups and their educational development. There are four different age categories; Two Can Do for ages two turning three, Watch Me @ 3 for ages three turning four, Dinkies for ages four turning five and Preps for ages five to seven.
Two Can Do
In the Two Can Do group, the focus is on incorporating life skills like sharing and tidying up: ‘It is a well known fact that children at two typically do not like to share’, Nadia mentions. (It is a habit that most people grow out of eventually, although we’re still reluctant to share our sweets).
Watch Me @ 3
In the Watch me @ 3 group, parents are encouraged to step back as the team hone in on promoting independence amongst the children.
Dinkies & Prep
As the children get a bit older, in the Dinkies as well as the Prep groups, they start to understand a little more and begin learning about good sportsmanship and healthy competition.
Acquiring life skills
Even though each age group can only manage a certain level of life skill development, throughout the programme, Playball encourages confidence, self-esteem and communication skills. It also physically helps children with co-ordination, balance and spatial awareness. A psychologist, physiologist, teacher and sports coach have all approved the selected movements to make sure they are age appropriate and suit the emotional development of the child.
What is important to note is that Playball does not teach and train children in fully fledged sporting competitions. It incorporates skills from the likes of basketball, football, volleyball and hockey, such as kicking a ball, holding a hockey stick or learning dribbling techniques. Each sports skill is taught dependent on the age group the child is in. From the age of two, the child will learn how to kick a ball, for example, allowing them to get familiar with the equipment, and as they get older they will learn how to use the equipment properly.
All of the Playball Doha instructors have combined experience from the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Canada in varying fields of expertise from nursery teaching, football programmes, triathlons, marathons, Pilates and, above all, they are all mothers, whose children live and love Playball.
The Playball Doha programme coincides with the school curriculum, with three terms running from September to December, January to early April and mid-April to June. Classes take place all across Doha in various compounds and other sporting grounds as well as at the Starfish Lane Kids Nursery, which has incorporated Playball into its curriculum.
Children are required to join for a term but are encouraged to join for the year, and at the end of the three terms there is a graduation ceremony where medals are handed out, as well as biannual report cards, with a non-judgmental evaluation to let parents know where their child is at in their skills development.
The iPad age was so yesterday. Getting into sport is so now.
Playball Doha QR100 registration fee plus QR600 first term (QR50/class). Sun-Thurs: 9am-12pm, playballdoha.com (77943009), email@example.com.