When you’re a proud supporter, you can’t wait to share the love and take the kids along to games to watch your team play. In your mind’s eye you see them cheering alongside you and your family bond strengthening over a bucket of hot chips. But how do you keep them still and engaged for the whole game?
Try these tips for taking younger kids to the stadium and you – and your children – might enjoy the game a whole lot more. And that’s worth cheering about!
» GAUGE YOUR CHILD’S ENERGY
Most kids find it hard to sit still for long periods of time and you could soon be regretting your decision to take them. It doesn’t matter if your child is three or eight, you know them better than anyone. If you’re pretty sure they will only last 15 minutes sitting down before they’ll want to jump on the seats and run through the aisles, put off taking your child till they are older, or be prepared to only see out the first half of the game before going home.
» CATER FOR NOISE
On the up side, if your child yells loudly or has an emotional breakdown, the crowd could drown out their noise. On the down side, the noise could be damaging to their delicate ears. Think about ear plugs for babies and young ones, and try to avoid sitting near speakers. Event Noise Management monitors the noise emanating from any sound amplification equipment at stadiums including Allianz Stadium and the Sydney Cricket Ground. The sound cannot exceed 60 decibels during International, State and Final events and 55 decibels during other events. This, of course, doesn’t include the noise from a boisterous crowd.
» USE TEAM PROPS
Kids will be more ‘into’ the game if they are active crowd participants. Whether you deck them out in the team’s colours, paint their faces or buy them a giant finger, flag or banner, they will feel more engaged with what’s going on. Holding a flag or banner may also keep them seated for longer.
» TEACH THE TEAM SONG
If your team has a song (the footy codes generally do), then teach your kids the song, or at least the chorus. They’ll love singing it at full throttle in the stadium with the masses, and it will help them enjoy the match experience.
» TALK THEM THROUGH IT
Even you would have a hard time watching a game you knew nothing about. So, chat to your kids throughout the game – discuss the teams playing, the basic rules (how much detail you go into depends on your children’s ages), and engage them in what’s happening. For example: ‘That was a great goal, wasn’t it?! Let’s watch it again on the big screen replay.’
» VENTURE TO EARLY GAMES
Parents are very wise to the fact that tired kids can be miserable company. If your children are under the age of about eight, then opt for taking them to 3pm or 5pm games over 7pm games. They might sleep in the car on the way home, but they might also be cranky over the next couple of days as their little bodies react to having a later night, which isn’t all that much fun for anyone.
» TOUR THE STADIUM
If you think your kids could be quite overwhelmed by going to such a large building, consider a stadium tour, such as those offered at ANZ Stadium, before you take them to their first game. You could also try showing them pictures of the stadium on your computer to minimise the shock of seeing it for the first time.
» GO TO ‘FAMILY’ EVENTS
Sports such as cricket, netball, basketball and the football codes occasionally have special family days to draw in young fans. You can expect family-friendly activities outside the stadium entrance plus great pre-game and half-time entertainment for the kids. This can be a great way to introduce young ones to the game you love.
If you have any other tips about taking kids to stadium games, please share them in the comments section below.