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: Roshan and Amaya*
Club: Middlesbrough FC Foundation
Roshan and his wife are Sri Lankan and having moved to London to do their degrees are now raising their family, Amaya (8 years old) and her younger brother in Middlesbrough. They encourage their children to take part in lots of different sports, so they grow up fit and healthy and “it sticks in their minds that sport is good for them.”
Amaya is a bubbly eight-year-old girl who loves going on bike rides with her younger brother. Her dad runs behind them whilst they cycle round the park, and they race each other. From a really young age Amaya has enjoyed trying different sports from gymnastics to swimming and her dad was determined that she would have the opportunities to do them despite growing up himself in an environment where girls were not encouraged to do sport.
“When I was little, my parents what they thought was totally different from what I think now. I think I missed doing sports early and I want my kids to do that because my mum didn’t allow me to swim. Even now I can’t do it. I don’t want that situation for my kids, I try to let them do everything and learn.” – Roshan
Roshan was already consciously choosing to do things differently from his parents’ generation. Yet it wasn’t until Roshan and Amaya joined the Daughters and Dad’s Active and Empowered (DADs) programme that he realised some of the engrained gender stereotypes in his mind were still having an impact on decisions he was making for his daughter. Sports like cricket, a game he loved from his own childhood, Roshan had felt was more suitable for his son rather than Amaya.
“We always let her do sports but some of them we felt like they are only for the boys or something like that. But after the sessions we realised that she should try others and she can decide if it is good for her or not.” – Roshan
The programme has also had a positive impact on the amount of time that Roshan finds to encourage and be active with his daughter. He chose to change his shift patterns so that he could join Amaya for their DADs sessions and do the activities together. Since the programme has finished, he has kept the Thursday after school time clear from work so he can continue to spend it with Amaya, and knows that being there for her now and in the future is essential.
“In the programme I got to know even more the importance of spending time with my daughter. I want our family to spend time together, and as a parent we want our kids to be healthy and happy. When they are enjoying something, and it makes them healthy at the same time it makes me proud and happy as well.” – Roshan
Roshan feels proud watching his daughter embrace different sports and Amaya says she is happiest when she is outside playing with her dad and spending time together as a family. She loved doing the rough and tumble games from the programme with her dad…
“For rough and tumble, you get to pick what you want to do. I always picked my favourites – one was like when we had to stand up, we both hold hands sitting back-to-back and then have to stand up. We both had to stand up at the same time. Sometimes my daddy stays on the floor, and I am the one standing up. It made me laugh and daddy was funny.” – Amaya
Roshan says that the programme has had many positive effects on Amaya and the family as a whole. He has seen her grow in confidence in how she handles and throws balls and is keen to try activities that she previously might not have thought were available to her as a girl.
“I learnt that boys and girls can do anything. Girls can do what boys do and boys can do what girls do.” – Amaya
*names have been changed for identity purposes