Irish Examiner View: The confidence to be healthy - Encouragement is the best elixir

Irish Examiner View: The confidence to be healthy - Encouragement is the best elixir

There are few books as predictable as the ghost-written autobiography of a sportsperson. 

Most follow a predictable path to reach a similar destination: Retirement. 

The author’s retirement is wreathed in laurels and can be enjoyed basking in the glow of spectacular achievement. After all, not too many publishers ask losers to write a memoir, even if that might be more interesting, more human, more real than 310 triumphant pages recording victory after victory.

One of the things these biographies have in common is that they reveal a spectacular level of determination, often formed very early in life. 

This unshakable self-belief is what separates top-of-the-tree performers like Roy Keane, Paul O’Connell, and Henry Shefflin from the chasing pack. 

Glorious talent driven by absolute belief wins the day.

Research by Dublin City University (DCU) confirms that truth, albeit from the opposite end of the spectrum. 

DCU found that children are more enthusiastic about sport if they have confidence in their abilities and adopt a can-do attitude.

This is as obvious as other DCU findings are startling: One in four between the ages of 5 and 12 cannot run properly, one in two cannot kick a ball. 

Fewer than one in five is active enough to sustain health. 

Not every child can be a Keane, an O’Connell, or a Shefflin, but every child deserves the encouragement that might avert an unhealthy, sedentary life. 

The old truth rings true again: Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí.

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