By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterSeptember 1, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Playing a sport is often a great way for children to learn to work as a team and interact with other individuals, but getting started can be tough for some.
That's why Fort Rucker Youth Sports is making the Start Smart Sports Development program available to parents who are interested in getting their children involved in sports, according to Sani Williams, assistant youth sports director.
The program, which comes from the National Alliance for Youth Sports, has been around for more than 10 years and was previously available only to children at the child development center because it was geared toward younger children, but Williams said it was time to make the program available to more children.
"We decided that we'd like to bring this program seasonally for the children who don't attend the CDC," said the assistant director. "It's a great program because it's something that the parents can get involved with and do with their children."
Smart Start, which will run Sept. 12-29, will have parents and children work with instructors to teach the child basic motor skills when it comes to sports, said Williams, so children will learn to kick, dribble, throw, run and more through different activities provided by the instructors.
"When children are just thrust into sports, it's not always the best way to get them to develop those skills," she said. "This allows parents to work with their own child and give them a chance to spend a little more time with them while teaching them."
This session of the program will be available for two sports -- soccer and football. The soccer session will be for children ages 3-4 and the football session will be for children aged 6-8.
"All the equipment that we will be using for the program is specifically made for children of that age group, so it helps them," said Williams. "The soccer balls that we have are very soft, so they can't get hurt through the program."
Other sports will also be offered throughout the year to coincide with the season of the sport, she said. Start Smart for basketball signups will begin in October, and signups for T-ball and baseball will begin in the spring, and additional options may become available in the future.
"For now we're just starting with our regular season sports, but there is potential to add other sports to the program, such as tennis, depending on how the program is received," said the assistant director.
Williams said the program is beneficial to children because it provides them with the groundwork for the sport that they're interested in, and having the parents involved gives the program the added benefit of interaction between family members.
"Usually with organized sports, it's a coach who interacts with the children, but with this program the parents get to be actively involved, and I think that's a fun thing for both," she said. "With these skills, it will help the children to transition into the organized sport, which they will be able to do when they become of age."
Parents interested in signing up children for the program must visit parent central services and make sure to register their child with child, youth and school services. Registration for the program is $20 and all children must have a current sports physical.
"We just want parents to sign up, and to come out and have a good time with their children," said Williams.
For more information, call 255-2257 or 255-2254.