James Dyson of Black Cat Building Consultancy discusses the value of team sport in developing essential life skills and explains how Black Cat are putting their money where their mouth is by giving their time free of charge to help project manage a new build Recreational and Community Centre.

I played rugby for over 25 years and I never really considered the benefits of playing, beyond the fact that I enjoyed it, until I had finished. As I look back on my time playing the game now, I have come to realise that it played a major part in my own development, providing me with qualities and skills that I have transferred into both my personal and professional life.

I believe that team sports and social clubs are important in the development of rounded human beings who can be successful in business. For me the following key lessons are not just learned but ingrained in people who commit to a sport or club throughout their formative years.

Hard Work and Dedication

First and foremost, sport teaches us that hard work, discipline and dedication pay off. If you put the effort in on a consistent basis you will see the rewards;

Competitive Yet Gracious

Sport teaches us that it is ok to be aggressive and competitive in the pursuit of your goals as long as you play within the rules. Play to win but understand where the boundaries are and accept defeat graciously;

Respect

I have always been taught that everyone involved in the game deserves your respect, teammates, opposition players, coaches, support staff and referees and this is how I have approached life off the pitch as well. I work on the basis that a person deserves my respect until they show otherwise;

Teamwork

One thing that you learn very quickly playing a team sport is that no matter how good you are as an individual you cannot win a game on your own. Whilst you must be self-aware and work hard to improve your own game you cannot afford to be selfish. You must help other players around you and put the good of the team before yourself. Over time you will develop an understanding of team dynamics and how to be a team player. At times this might mean taking a leadership role but at other times it might mean taking a back seat and encouraging others to step up.

Communication

When playing the game you need to be able to communicate quickly and effectively, when training you need to explain why you are doing something and how that applies to a game situation. When leading and coaching a team you need to be able to communicate a common goal and a plan to achieve it. At all times you need to be able to listen to others and consider their views and all of this is made easier if you have the interpersonal skills to just get along with people;

Motivation

Good leaders in sport lead by example and they take people with them rather than carrying them. Good motivators say what they are going to do and they do it but they also ask their teammates what are you going to do? Good coaches might give players the hairdryer treatment, but their criticisms are honest and constructive and are combined with support and encouragement to improve weaknesses

Shevington FC and Shevington Sharks ARFLC are part of a joint venture to develop a recreational and community facility incorporating four changing rooms, referees changing rooms, welfare facilities and a community meeting room with kitchen. Their aim is to provide a sports and community hub in Shevington where they can further develop the two sports clubs, at the same time as enabling significant community use of the facility creating greater community cohesion and social inclusion.

Black Cat are donating £40,000.00 worth of project management time and expertise to help Shevington Community and Recreational Centre become a reality. This local community project will provide changing facilities and function space for local sports clubs, societies, schools, health organisations and council projects.

With the support of Sport England, Wigan Council and the fundraising efforts of the community the pitches and car park works are complete.

The final piece of the puzzle is the building which Black Cat have designed, tendered and received planning approval for. We have an estimated project cost of circa. £750k and we have pledges of support and funding from the FA, RFL, Wigan Council, IKO, Fulwood Roofing, Black Cat and several other community businesses/individuals.

Black Cat believe strongly that team sports and social clubs help develop key life skills such as leadership, teamwork, discipline and respect. We are therefore delighted to be involved in providing a facility which can encourage the growth of these clubs and help with health and wellbeing issues in the community.

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