By Kerry Elsworth
Growing up, my own mother was incredible as she took on every role imaginable within the football club in our village so that my brother and I could play. I am originally from Stalbridge, Dorset but I am a graduate of Photojournalism at University of South Wales.
My project stemmed from wanting to celebrate those who make it possible for children to access sport. As I talked to people, I found most of the volunteers and community were parents, so the project really became about them.
Sport has so many lasting benefits for young people, not just for fitness, but for their mental health and social life. I met amazing young athletes from many different sports, and every one of them had such determination, but also a proud parent who supported them every step of the way.
Our parents shape us in to the adults we become. Parental Pride celebrates the hard-working mothers and fathers who support their child athletes, through a series of portraits, considering the countless sacrifices they make to ensure their children enjoy all the benefits and rewards of sport.
Below is a selection of stories from my project, Parental Pride.
Heidi White: “It’s the commitment. It’s the juggling. We’re out all the time, she trains three time a week, as well as playing football. It’s home quick, get changed, no time for homework. It’s not local either, we travel all over the country and there are opportunities abroad.
It’s a disciplined sport, and very respectful. People don’t understand why I let my daughter do it, but if she doesn’t want to anymore she can always stop, but I’d rather she was here than being shut in her room in front of a screen.
She’s so happy, bouncing around. When she first started, she was fearless, but now there are some butterflies. She won’t come to see me after a match, and all you want to do is give them a hug.
She’s a tiny thing, so weight match can be really hard, the heights don’t always match up. It is hard to watch, they’re getting tougher and bigger, I am lucky so far that she has won most. I struggle watching, when it does happen, I don’t know how I’ll react. What I will do. I watch with one eye.”
Colin Moore: “I coach and manage both their local and county teams, as well as being junior coordinator and child protection welfare officer for Stalbridge. I coach to have time with them, so I’m not just watching, but I am actively involved.
There’s a fair bit of driving, to matches and training. They train throughout the winter, so it’s all year for us.
I really enjoy it, I just love seeing them be active and outdoors. The team environment is valuable, socially, and on the fitness side as well. I got a lot from Cricket when I played, and I want them to have that same opportunity.“
Simon Clarke: “I help out by coaching and managing his team, we help marking out all of the pitches, running the line and sorting the teas for the parents on match days, as well as sitting on the club’s committee.
It’s a lot of work, but we give up so much of our time because we enjoy it ourselves and we feel it’s so important to help keep these small community teams running for the children.”
Andrew Cawley: “Inevitably, lots of early mornings for training, 5:30am starts for the pools. Driving to events and obviously putting him in a sports specialist school, it’s why we chose Leweston because it’s an Academy for Pentathlon. It’s a comfortable school for him and it’s great socially.
It’s really going to set him up well, the fitness and cardiovascular aspect is so demanding and builds his strength, which helps with his horse-riding. For us, it’s about knowing he’s involved and has a passion for a sport that he finds rewarding. That gives us the knowledge that he is set for the future.”
Jonathon Turner: “Most of the practice is done at home, sometimes she drives out on the roads but rarely. She completes two events a month. On driving days we have to get all the kit to competitions on the lorry. You do it instead of holidays.
Competition days are really big family affairs, everyone goes, all day, and the sisters get involved. When the weather’s horrid, you think you’re a bit nuts for doing it. We go all over the place as well. It’s so fantastic to watch her compete, winning is quite embarrassing actually, because we don’t do it for that.
As quite a cautious child, it’s hard to find something that’s such a team effort, but on the day it’s all her, which is quite terrifying actually, with a pony that can get to such speeds, but its great fun to watch. The team work to make it all look seamless is huge, and we all have our jobs to do on competition day.”
To see more of my work, visit www.kerryelsworth.co.uk/parental-pride