Nino Severino: Parents in sport... From the incredibly supportive, to the plain toxic
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In his latest column, Nino Severino looks at the positives good parenting can do in sport
Spending most of my life around sport, brings me into contact with many parents in sport, some who are incredibly supportive and a total positive force in their children’s lives, to those who are.... to be completely honest... a toxic energy!
I have been coaching now for over 30 years, and during this time, I think I have experienced it all, from parents of young athletes who were too scared to enter the car to travel back home with their dad, to parents who worked in the same environment as I did, such as Richard Williams, the famous father of Serena and Venus, who together have become one of the most successful stories in sport, to billionaire parents who I travelled around the world with in their private jet, supporting their son at European competitions.
Based on this experience, an author called Gordon Maclelland approached me to ask if I would like to join him in a project he was developing, based around helping and supporting parents in sport, ensuring they are a positive force in their children’s lives.
He has already written some very valuable hand books for parents, called “Great Sporting Parenting” and “Engage”.
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These books are backed up by an incredibly informative website, with a members area, packed full of very valuable tips, advice and information for those out in the sporting world who want to work hard to ensure that they become good parents to their sporting children.
I, myself am now heavily involved in supporting parents in sport, through my role as Director of The Hub, at the University of Suffolk, and as a staff member of Bryan Klug’s Ipswich Town Academy set up.
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It’s through the academy I am concentrating a large amount of my time in this very specialist area of education and support, with this week seeing the ITFC Academy launching an incredibly exciting and innovative education and support programme for the parents of the young football players who are learning their craft of football at the academy at Playford Road in Ipswich.
Spending so much time around this subject area, motivates me to look at the great, and not so great examples of parents in sport.
Only this week there was a great example of this.
From the world of boxing, and to be honest, I don’t think you could study a more interesting story, the father son combination of Snr and Jnr Chris Eubank.
Together they both have carved out an incredible sporting experience, which has a very interesting past, and recently with Chris Eubank Jnr winning the world title fight against James DeGale an interesting present, and I am sure, with these two very colourful characters, we are all to witness an explosive future!
I spent most of my sporting life in the world of fighting, holding three National titles in karate and kickboxing and being a member of the England Under 21 karate squad.
This part of my life led me onto working with The England Boxing team, who, at that time were based at the World Class centres in Manchester and Crystal Palace.
My very first session, actually including a young Amir Khan, who was to go on and become a World Champion himself. Because of my past in fighting, and my current role, supporting parents in sport, the Eubank’s story is particularly interesting to me.
Some of you may remember the first time Eubank Jnr was seen on TV.
It was on the reality TV series called “At Home With The Eubanks”, it was very clear during the episodes that they both had a very close and loving relationship.
Chris Eubank Snr elected to make a very bold decision, after Eubank Jnr spent some educational time at Brighton College, he sent him to continue his education at Spring Valley School in Las Vegas.
Originally Eubank Snr was opposed to his son going anywhere near the boxing game, actually in one interview stating that boxing was “a mug’s game” simply because through his experience, he thought that fighters were very much exploited.
This, is very much part of their incredible partnership and now, their story.
Eubank Jnr told the world, that he and his dad had a conversation, where Eubank Jnr said to his dad, “if I could make it out in the States, then I could make it anywhere.”
At this point, his dad agreed to give his son, the shot he so very much wanted at making it as a professional boxer.
Chris Eubank Jnr started very well winning the Nevada State Golden Gloves title after just seven fights, then progressing onto winning the regional Golden Gloves title against the most talented boxers from Arizona.
Exceptional success such as this, very much changed the mind of his father, to the point where he said “he is the best since Sugar Ray Leonard, and has punching power akin to Mike Tyson.
“I don’t fear for ‘Junior’ because he’s the most dangerous young man I’ve ever come across in boxing. He’s scary. I would say to referees in this country and around the world: ‘Be mindful of his opponents because they are in danger.”
The Eubanks partnership is a very positive one, and after many ups and downs, they have both come through the challenges that sport can inflict on a parent child relationship, they have also proved, with a closeness, respect for each other and a focus on working together in a healthy fashion, parents in sport, can have a very positive influence on their children’s careers!