This Father’s Day, we’re sharing stories from our DADs programme and highlighting just how impactful a father-figure’s relationship with their daughter can be when it comes to sport and activity.
Names: Aaliyah, Amir (Baba) and Fatima*
Club: Leyton Orient Trust
Six (and a half) year-old Aaliyah loves learning new skills and doing activities with her Baba (dad), 42-year-old Amir, and she says he often let’s her win. Dad and daughter have a close bond but the pressures of his accountancy work, which increased during the pandemic, have meant that Amir has had very little time to focus on his relationship with Aaliyah and active fun has been limited to the weekends.
So, when Aaliyah was handed a leaflet in school for the Daughters and Dad’s Active and Empowered programme, she leapt at the chance and encouraged her dad to sign up straight away.
Amir lost stamina and fitness during the past intense months of lockdown and long hours working but the programme helped him to refocus on his daughter as a priority. He made sure that Aaliyah learnt from his own actions, keeping going even when he wanted to stop halfway through and making sure that he arrived back home in good time for the session.
“The words we talked through they mattered a lot. If I had stopped, how can I teach her to be brave or resilient or persistent. That is why I had to do the activities to the end so I could motivate her and encourage, influence and impress her.” – Amir
Aaliyah’s mum says the programme made him realise the importance of finding time for the kids and she really liked the way he took it seriously, making sure he was back from the office in good time for the start.
Aaliyah loved that the time she and her Baba (dad) spent together was just for her. Her dad was not doing work or involving her brother and mum, it was totally focused on her.
“Before the programme I didn’t spend much time with daddy but after the session I spent more time with my dad. I feel happy, I feel comfortable having more time with dad. We are going to go cycling together next!” – Aaliyah
The positive effects of this time have continued since the programme ended. Aaliyah tried so hard at her school sports day that she won a medal, and her dad has signed her up to a football course where she is able to use and build on ball skills that she had been learning. She has also begun to challenge some of the gender stereotypes that girls are taught to believe from an early age and realise the opportunities available to her.
“Girls should do the same things and different things. If the boy likes skipping and the girl likes skipping they should both do it. But some things the girl might like the push ups but the boy might not.” – Aaliyah
Amir is also continuing to exercise more frequently, getting up early in the morning to do some push ups and encouraged by the DADs programme activity to go for walks with his daughter, Amir is also now using the car much less especially for quick trips to the local shops.
“In terms of physical exercises, the programme is very good especially for dad. Plus again the main thing and purpose was to have much time for dads and daughters together which is a very good purpose. To have some time together, to have fun together, to share the things together. Not just that one hour time but they often carry on after the programme so it is very good.” – Fatima
The whole family have enjoyed the benefits of the programme with new games being inspired and everyone wanting to make more time to be active. The family have a plan to do lots of cycling together this summer. The programme has in fact been such a success, with mum and big brother seeing Aaliyah and her dad having so much fun that they now want to have a programme focused just on them!
*names have been changed for identity purposes