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THE whole nation was glued to the television one recent Saturday evening as the national football team took on Vietnam in the final game of the 2018 Suzuki Cup Championship. Malaysia needed to win that night having fought hard for a draw in the home game a few days earlier.

The win didn’t come. Instead, Vietnam scored an early and only goal to claim the trophy. It was heart-breaking as we’d came so close, overcoming all expectations just to be in the final. But in the end, Vietnam was the better team and a deserving winner.

Nevertheless, Malaysians generally were very proud of the team’s performance. They’d played a better and more modern game than in previous years. The future looks bright if they can keep up the momentum.

Winning and losing are part of the game, but why is losing so painful to bear? Is winning the only objective of any sports?

According to a popular local football page, harimaumalayadotcom, that shouldn’t be the case.

It says that in the West, sports have become a culture for young children because parents there know that it’s the best character-building tool for their kids.

Unlike their counterparts in this part of the world, sports are used to show off who’s better and stronger. This leads to an unhealthy culture of winning at all cost.

Losers are berated and condemned, while winners are celebrated like there’s no tomorrow.

BUILDING SOLID CHARACTER

The page also shared a post by a Western mother called Trevlyn Mayo Palframan.

When one of her friends asked why she paid so much money for her children to pursue all their sports, her answer was priceless.

She replied that she couldn't care less about paying for sports; instead, she was paying for the intangible benefits it brings.

These benefits include those moments when her children become so tired that they want to quit but don't. Those days when they come home from school and are too tired to go for their training but they go anyway. And also when they learn to be disciplined, focused and dedicated.

She added: “I pay for my children to learn to take care of their body and equipment. I pay for my children to learn to work with others and be good team mates, gracious in defeat and humble in success.”

She went on to add many more benefits of sports such as dealing with disappointments, goal setting, hard work and teamwork. And because of sports, her children no longer stay indoors and stuck in front of their screens.

As parents, are we doing enough to bring those benefits to our children? Congratulations if you’ve enrolled your children in any sports club.

For the rest, it’s never too late. Let’s include this in our New Year’s resolution and plans. Let our children get the physical, emotional and social benefits of sports, whether through winning or losing. Let them build a solid character in order to win in the game of life.

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