x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pole Position: Children learn life lessons on the racetrack

Most people agree that participation in sport is essential to help children develop the competitive mindset that is increasingly required in the new workplace.

When children eventually make their way into the workplace they are likely to be confronted with a range of unwelcome issues. They will be on their own in a furiously competitive environment that not only requires development of skills and knowledge of the job, but also quick thinking, resilience, tenacity and stamina in an environment where attitude is every bit as important as qualifications.

As parents, our challenge is to prepare them for this reality. Of course, a good education is crucial but that is only a part of what they are going to need.

Most people agree that participation in sport is essential to help children develop the competitive mindset that is increasingly required in the new workplace. I simply don't go for the political argument that we shouldn't have winners and losers in school sports. That's no way to prepare for life.

Another big challenge is finding enough common ground with our children as they get older so we can continue to help, guide, influence and maintain a healthy relationship.

So what's all this to do with motor racing?

Well, if you look carefully you will find that kart racing and its big brother, motor racing, are true family sports. At its starting point, eight year olds are shown how to drive (and behave) by their Dads. At the other end of the scale, you will nearly always see the young world champion with his proud father. They will almost certainly have been working together towards a shared goal. You may not realise it, but you'll probably find that you can recognise and name the fathers of the last three F1 world champions: Sebastian, Jenson and Lewis.

The reason this works so very well is the combination of excitement, risk management, discipline, commitment, teamwork, fitness, knowledge transfer and skills development that is part and parcel of karting and motor racing. How can you put a price on the value of spending weekends with your children as you guide them through mastering an activity that is difficult yet compelling?

The benefits are huge. Parents get to build a common interest and a good working relationship with their children that will endure. Of course, it may not be long before Dad's knowledge of the sport is found lacking and the student becomes the expert, but Dad's role as mentor and coach never stops.

The child unwittingly starts to acquire attributes required in the big, wide world. Think about it. He or she wants to race and win, but probably has to start off by coming last. As the driving is so much fun the failure is overcome, yet the will to improve grows. So, in turn, they have to learn about attention to detail, which requires commitment, and they learn about discipline, respect and taking acceptable risks. Most of the time they will lose races but the desire to improve becomes a way of life. They discover that winning requires perseverance, fitness, technical ability and intelligence. If they do all these things, they win. What other activity can match this?

Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is hoping to find an Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Join the UAE racing community online at www.gulf-sport.com or on Facebook at GulfSportRacing.