And where do you go to find the classes, courses and clubs that will harness their enthusiasm for swimming, running, jumping or whichever Olympic pursuit has captured their imagination?
Here is our guide to the top ten ways to keep the Olympic flame burning, whether your little one’s a novice or is ready to take their talent that step further:
Seek out Sport England
Sport England is the main government agency dedicated to helping encourage young people and communities into sport, so this is probably your best first port of call. Check out its Active Places website, which lists 50,000 sports facilities from tennis courts to swimming pools, ice rinks, athletics tracks and football pitches. Browse an interactive map to find those closest to you, search for specific sports in your local area and more at Sport England.
It’s too late for this summer but why not plan ahead and sign your littlest ones up to the King’s Foundation Easter and summer activity camps? They’re Ofsted-registered and aimed specifically at under-8s, with action-packed fun including swimming pool games, benchball, badminton and more. A non-residential activity week costs from £138. Search your local area to find the camp nearest to you at Kids Camp by Kings Camps.
For 8-10s this school holiday camp, also run by the King’s Foundation, helps children to get a taste for new sports, develop their skills and enjoy “crazy challenges”. A typical day might include tennis, netball, football, dodgeball, hockey and basketball. Again, a week’s worth of activities costs from £138. See Kids Camp by Kings Camps.
Let Me Play
Older kids keen to hone their sporting skills should check out the Let Me Play series of camps that run during the summer months. This year’s included a Reading FC camp for 10-16s, with pro coaching, a behind-the-scenes tour and speed and agility masterclasses. Next summer’s athletics camp is already on offer, with discus, javelin, triple jump and more, as well as workshops on everything from nutrition to sports psychology. See Let Me Play.
Jessica Ennis kickstarted her career at an Aviva Startrack scheme when she was just ten years old. The programme introduces 8 to 15-year-olds to athletics and helps them to hone their skills in a series of weekend, after school and holiday classes. Search dates and your local area for the scheme nearest to you – you never, know, you could have a future Olympic heptathlete on your hands: See UKA.
Check out your local council
Most local authorities run and have information on term-time coaching courses and sports classes at leisure centres and other venues across their borough. Contact your local authority or search the sports and leisure sections of their website. For instance, Derby’s Springwood Leisure Centre offers trampolining courses accredited by the British Gymnastic Awards Scheme for 7-16s, while Ipswich Borough Council offers basketball clubs and summer camps.
British Rowing’s youth and community manager Simon Dickie says it’s never too late to start rowing – but if your little ones are inspired by Katherine Grainger and co, there are plenty of courses for juniors from 11 years and up. Find your nearest club at British Rowing and look for those that a Clubmark accredited and offer taster sessions or learn to row courses.
Give Gymnastics a Shot
British Gymnastics accredits Gymnastics for All activities, beginning with movement programmes for pre-schoolers and moving on to more specific disciplines for older kids. Find your nearest Gym Club at British Gymnastics.
Synchronised swimming is one of those below-radar sports that people often forget – until it pops up in a dazzling display as it did at this year’s Olympics. But how do you even get started? According to British Swimming, the key attributes for any budding synchro star are strong swimming skills and confidence in and under water. Sounds like your kids? Try an Aqua Fun course for 7-13s, which teach the basics or join your local Synchro Club. Don’t know where to look? Track down your local pool, course or club via Swimming.org.
Try the Triathlon
If a multi-discipline sport appeals, try out one of the UK’s Triathlon clubs and events. TriOne runs two-day camps for 8-16-year-olds in Hertfordshire, with more coming up this October and November. Prices are from £27 a day via Kids Triathlon Holiday Camps. Keep an eye on the UK Kids Fun Triathlon website, where upcoming junior triathlon events are on offer across the UK at Kids Triathlon UK. Or contact the British Triathlon official body for info on other clubs and events. See British Triathlon.org