Insights from Mark Kelly & Gerry McElligott Co-Founders of The Kick Company (TKCO)
In the bustling heart of Ireland, the World Trade Center Dublin (WTC Dublin) stands as a symbol of global interconnectedness and progress. The Kick Company (TKCO), led by its Co-Founders Mark Kelly and Gerry McElligott (TKCO), has emerged as a beacon of hope and innovation within the WTC Dublin’s vibrant community of members. In today’s fast-paced world, where the demands of modern life can sometimes overshadow the importance of health, wellness, and happiness, The Kick Company has embarked on a mission that transcends borders and generations.
Insights from the Co-Founders on the critical role of outdoor activities and sports in fostering a healthy lifestyle and enhancing family happiness are timely and poignant. As the world grapples with an ever-increasing health crisis, TKCO’s vision is making a significant contribution toward safeguarding the well-being of current and future generations. Within this context of global health challenges, we embark on a journey to explore the positive impact of outdoor activities and sports on individuals and societies worldwide. We draw inspiration from the visionary contributions of Mark Kelly and Gerry McElligott in promoting a healthier, happier world for all.
TKCO: “In today’s world, the youth are grappling with a rising prevalence of sedentary lifestyles and an overreliance on structured and organized activities. This dependency on structured activities often hinders their personal development. The constant evaluation and scrutiny they face from coaches, teachers, and parents within the framework of these structured activities can be limiting, preventing them from fully exploring their potential and individuality.
What’s more, the intrinsic relationships with physical activity, which should be a natural part of growing up, are eroding rapidly. This erosion can be attributed to the absence of a cultural and innate love for being deeply engrossed in a sport they are passionate about. Embracing the great outdoors and engaging in unstructured, spontaneous activities can play a vital role in rekindling this innate connection with physical well-being, contributing significantly to the health and wellness of our youth.”
The Global Health Crisis
The global health crisis is on the rise, with escalating rates of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and mental health issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified physical inactivity as a major risk factor for global mortality, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue. National sports policies aligned with WHO and Sustainable Development Goals 2030 recognize the need to increase sports participation levels significantly.
TKCO: “In alignment with the global health agenda outlined by organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, national sports policies are increasingly acknowledging the necessity of boosting sports participation levels. The goal is to increase these levels by a significant margin, ranging from 10% to 35%. This strategic move recognizes the profound impact of physical activity on our overall well-being and is part of a broader initiative to improve public health worldwide.
A pivotal study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2019 delved into the ramifications of an integrated “physical activity package” aimed at curbing obesity. The findings were eye-opening, projecting that such an approach could yield savings of an astonishing US$17 billion by the year 2050 across 36 nations. This underlines the immense potential of prioritizing physical activity in mitigating health-related challenges, especially the global obesity epidemic.
While it’s undeniable that human lifespan is on the rise, the concept of “health span” demands our vigilant attention. Ensuring a lengthy life is just one aspect; it’s equally important to maintain a robust health span. Being active is the cornerstone of this effort, as it bolsters our capacity to recover from negative health events. By engaging in regular physical activity, we equip ourselves to emerge stronger and more resilient, allowing us to continue leading independent and healthy lives. This, in turn, has far-reaching implications for global health and wellness, transcending the individual to benefit all of society.”
The Global Impact of Exercise
The benefits of outdoor activities and sports extend far beyond physical health. Maintaining a healthy weight, improving cardiovascular health, and boosting the immune system are just a few of the advantages.
A study from The Lancet highlights the link between physical inactivity and premature deaths, emphasizing the life-saving potential of exercise.
Mental health is also profoundly affected by physical activity. Engaging in sports and outdoor activities reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, enhances mood, and boosts cognitive function. The Global Burden of Disease Study underscores the impact of exercise on mental health conditions, emphasizing the need to prioritize physical activity.
Additionally, outdoor activities and sports have a remarkable impact on family well-being, strengthening bonds, and increasing happiness and satisfaction. Notably, physical inactivity comes at a significant economic cost, as evidenced by The Lancet’s report on the global economic consequences of inactivity.
TKCO: “In Ireland, nearly 50,000 children embark on their sporting journeys each year. However, it’s disheartening to note that by the tender age of 12, less than 20% of these youngsters engage in the recommended Moderate Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA). This alarming trend isn’t confined to Ireland alone; it’s a global predicament.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019, over 80% of adolescents attending school worldwide fail to meet the recommended daily quota of at least one hour of physical activity. The stark reality becomes evident in rural communities like those engaged in Gaelic Games, where a high percentage of children struggle to run, display poor coordination, and lack the core strength to simply play ball.
The consequences of this deficiency in daily physical activity are palpable, especially in the western world where obesity has reached near-epidemic proportions. Reports indicate that in 2010, more than 35% of individuals in the United States were categorized as obese. Similarly, the United Kingdom and Ireland reported obesity rates of approximately 25%. This marks a substantial increase from 1993 when just 13% of men and 16% of women were classified as obese.
Recognizing that a child’s initial experiences in sports significantly impact their future participation, it becomes clear that fostering a positive early experience is paramount. Conversely, a negative experience can lead children to abandon sports and physical activities altogether, potentially filling the void with excessive screen time and sedentary recreational pastimes.”
Promoting free play, devoid of constant scrutiny, is essential for children to maintain fitness and a healthy weight. Where better to achieve this than at home. It’s about more than just physical health; it’s a platform for learning life skills, fostering confidence, improving social skills, and developing concentration, problem-solving abilities, balance, and language and social aptitude. In a world facing the escalating challenges of sedentary living, these outdoor activities serve as a beacon of hope for global health and wellness.
TKCO’s philosophy revolves around putting ball skills (multiple sports) at the forefront of why people play. Nearly everyone has played ball at some stage! Their innovative product, the SkillMaster® Ball Rebounder, promotes fundamental skills through play. Eye-hand coordination, mobility, speed, agility, quickness, and other aspects of physical and cognitive development are enhanced through play, without the constant need for approval and intervention. GAA homes in Ireland have recognized this from the outset.
Promoting Outdoor Activities and Sports Globally
To address the global health crisis and promote well-being, several key strategies are essential. First and foremost, education plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about the benefits of physical activity. Additionally, investments in outdoor recreational infrastructure and policy support for physical activity are crucial.
Community engagement and family involvement are recommended to encourage participation, as family homes are influential in countering sedentary lifestyles. Moreover, embracing new trends, such as integrating traditional sports into video games, can further engage the younger generation.
TKCO: “In the battle against the rising tide of obesity and sedentary living, homes serve as the primary battleground. It’s here that the allure of phones and game consoles often overshadows traditional sports and outdoor activities. The modern household dynamic can inadvertently discourage active engagement, presenting a significant challenge for those championing physical health and wellness, as the chart below describes:
|Gen Z has been brought up by Millennial parents who emphasise healthy food, sports, and exercise||Parents are prepared to invest now to ensure a healthy future for their kids|
|They no longer solely follow teams – instead they identify with the athletes themselves||Coaches and parents must allow Gen Z to express themselves and develop personality/identity in their game|
|They are aware of sustainability issues, being connected while socialising and belonging to a group||Clubs, coaches and parents value quality and durability|
|eSport as an option – Sport is an integral part of their lifestyle, hence Gen Z are more likely to participate in Sport than just watch it||New crossovers, sports integrated into video games (Hado), sports created with Artificial Intelligence, new sports spinoffs (Basketball 3×3)|
The shift towards e-Sports for instance has had a profound impact on traditional ball sports. The latter struggles to keep pace with the digital revolution, raising concerns among sport’s National Governing Bodies (NGBs). Their worry stems from the fact that the minority of dedicated athletes pursuing elite-level sports face an underchallenged journey due to a lack of grassroots participation.
One of the critical factors contributing to the alarming 75% dropout rate in sports among the 14–16-year-old cohort is over-specialization. This issue underscores the need for a more balanced and inclusive approach to sports participation at the grassroots level.
To address these challenges effectively, it’s imperative for National Governing Bodies to collaborate and look at the annual sports calendar, prioritizing grassroots engagement across a spectrum of sports as opposed to monopolizing the calendar in competition with each other, for community support. The bigger picture must always guide the way.
Incorporating education into sports can sometimes add complexity. However, the essence of this endeavor lies in simplifying access to sports for every individual. It’s about unlocking the vast potential that resides within each person and their own development path while nurturing physical literacy, especially in younger children. This holistic approach promises to benefit everyone.”
Overall, physical activity is a powerful conduit to bring us into the present moment. It has the capacity to instill resilience, equipping individuals to face life’s challenges with fortitude. The importance of developing physical literacy alongside academic literacy cannot be understated, particularly for the younger generation. In the grand tapestry of global health and wellness, outdoor activities and sports play a pivotal role in nurturing both the body and the mind, fostering a healthier, more balanced world.
In the ever-evolving landscape of global health and well-being, The Kick Company has illuminated a path towards a brighter future. Their insights underscore the undeniable global impact of outdoor activities and sports on health and happiness. As we confront a mounting health crisis, prioritizing physical activity on a global scale has never been more urgent.
By acknowledging the myriad benefits of outdoor activities and sports and actively implementing strategies to promote them, we are not merely inching towards a healthier world but sprinting towards it. TKCO’s visionary approach encapsulates this sentiment perfectly. Their commitment to addressing the activity deficit, with fun skills play, particularly among those disengaged from organized activities, is a beacon of hope.
TKCO’s product strategy, meticulously aligned with the Irish National Sports Policy 2018 – 2027, signifies a concerted effort to meet and exceed set targets. Together, as a global community, we have the potential to safeguard the health and happiness of current and future generations. By fostering a commitment to physical activity, we are sowing the seeds of a better, healthier world where everyone can thrive.
To learn more about The Kick Company visit https://www.thekickcompany.com/