This week we are recognising the importance that parents have in the sport of athletics as part of our Parents in Sport Week celebrations.
We sat down with Derek Price, one of Welsh Athletics’ most active officials and also father of GB & Welsh International twins Ffion and Rhianwedd Price to get his thoughts on being an active parent in sport.
Derek, you are a busy man, tell us about some of the roles that you fulfil in athletics
That’s right, I do wear a number of different ‘hats’ so to speak. I serve on the Welsh Schools Athletic Association Committee and am heavily involved in their cross country event series throughout the winter. This involves a number of different roles including course design and build, recruitment and deployment of volunteers and marshals right down to actually starting the races!
Outside of these duties I also assist with local cluster primary schools races, the Powys Primary Schools Cross Country events, the Welsh Inter-Regional Cross Country Championships. I am also a member of Rhayader Running Club and help with their race series. I have been extremely lucky to also be involved in a number of other events including; Welsh Athletics Cross Country Championships, the Home Countries Schools International Athletics Board Cross Country International, the Royal Welsh Trail Running Festival, and Cardiff Half Marathon to name but a few!
What would you say are some of the positive aspects of having children that are involved in the sport of athletics?
I think that there are a number of things - being heavily involved in sport over the years has provided the opportunity to travel across the UK and internationally which has been excellent. You get to meet so many different people and being involved in the sport as a volunteer and now a parent has certainly made me appreciate the work that is done by so many volunteers (and many of them are parents themselves!) in order to make sport happen.
When I go to competitions with the twins it's great to see the effort that all of the competitors put into racing and the positive effect that it can have on children’s fitness, attitudes and lifestyle. Along with this of course is a huge sense of pride when celebrating the girls’ success, highlights include seeing them represent Wales, gain GB vests, wining the Commonwealth Youth Games and World Youth Mountain Running titles.
Now for the flip side; what are some of the challenges of having children that are involved in athletics?
I would say, like most people (and parents) things are often extremely busy. Trying to lead a ‘normal’ life, working full time with a number of commitments is definitely a challenge!
Fortunately, the girls are now old enough to manage their own lives and are much more independent. To be fair, when they were younger and even now, it was and is mainly their mother who was the main motivator and provided the inspiration to them. My role has always been a supportive one and things can be challenging if perhaps they have seemingly performed ‘under par’ (by the very high standards that they set themselves) and are naturally disappointed. I obviously try to pick them up and always draw out the positives.
I do recall one of the challenges throughout the cross country season was trying to negotiate the busy and hectic competition schedule - there was a fixture virtually every weekend and sometimes even mid-week races.
Finally, do you have any advice or tips for parents, who perhaps have children that are new to the sport?
Yes, I guess so, just a couple of tips that I have followed over the years;
- Never make them do something – they must want to do it.
- Encourage them to make friends, that way they will enjoy the sport even more.
- As a parent, don’t expect too much, children will usually always do the best that they can.
- Always, always be positive.
You can read more about Parents in Sport Week and how to get involved here.