Ninja Parc franchisee, school teacher turned obstacle course owner

  Apr 20, 2022

‘Don’t force your kids to play sport!’: Former teacher’s advice for parents.
Former teacher Eleni Szmeti advises parents to re-consider traditional sports if their child is simply not interested.

There is no denying the value of physical activity for kids. The earlier they form a great relationship with movement and their bodies, the better, as it sets up positive patterns and habits for their adult life. In saying that, the value of physical activity can fall apart if kids are pushed into activities they don’t enjoy.

Don’t force it
Please parents – don’t force you kids to play sport! And don’t just do a sport so you can tick a box.
I’ve seen it time and time again when I worked as a schoolteacher. Sometimes kids are expected to fit the mould and choose from a small number of options – be it football, cricket, athletics – but the problem is, these sports don’t necessarily suit all kids. These kids end up having a miserable relationship with exercise, spending their school years bumbling through PE and inventing excuses. It’s not healthy, it doesn’t promote positive movement and it’s just not the way it
should be.

‘I suffered’
I am a walking example of this as well.
As a child, I suffered health issues and due to the medication, I put on weight. I didn’t feel like I belonged in any of the sports on offer back then and so I really fell through the cracks. It can happen so easily. I only wish there were some other options available when I was a child – some kind of activity I could relate to,
belong to and enjoy. Instead of forcing kids into traditional activities, it’s time to expand our minds and acknowledge that there are so many different ways to get active and move – it’s about finding an activity that suits the personality and interests of the child. Movement should be fun and when it is, it actually becomes a great outlet for children and a benefit to their mental health as well as their physical.


Listen to our kids
We need to tune into what our children are telling us about what they like and dislike and yes, sometimes it is going to involve a degree of trial and error – but the result is worth it for both parents and children. Imagine how much easier it is to get kids dressed and out the door for an activity they actually want to do!
It’s also good to stretch children’s minds into new interests, so the trial-and-error phase can be truly fun in itself. Most sports offer free trials so you can give the activity a whirl and gauge how engaged or disinterested they are.
Schools need to think outside the box too – some are doing it well, but others could really use a creative boost. When you see a child’s face light up – rosy cheeks, running around, squealing with delight -you get a glimpse of what a joyful and beneficial part of kids’ lives physical activity can be. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit!

Eleni Szemeti runs Ninja Parc ( in Melbourne – a Ninja Warrior-style obstacle course for kids. A place where kids use their bodies and their minds together and don’t even realise they are engaging in physical activity because its fun.

As Australia’s largest indoor obstacle course provider, Ninja Parc attracts hundreds of thousands of individuals and families. Learn how you can become a Ninja Parc franchise owner –


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