Jean-Pierre Evers and his family have been living in Beijing since 2007. A Dutch native, Jean-Pierre Evers is not only a businessman, but also a part-time hockey coach at Sports Beijing. Both of his two kids, Pieter and Juun, are involved in sports at the International School of Beijing (ISB). Pieter plays soccer, basketball and volleyball while Juun plays hockey and is a member of the swimming team. We visited the Evers family last weekend to hear Jean-Pierre’s thoughts on why kids should “learn” sports.
What’s your opinion on your kids playing sports?
In the Netherlands, we believe that sports are an essential part of education. It’s very important that your kids know how to compete. Sports are also good to help them build confidence. Kids need to achieve not only academically, but also as a sportsman and an individual.
Plus, it’s easy to gain weight nowadays.
In your opinion, what is “sports education?”
Sports are not only physical, but also mental. It is important for kids to learn the mental part. We call it sports intelligence. Our organization (Sports Beijing) actually takes kids to Guo’an games quite often. During the game, our coach explains to the kids about the formation and tactics, and the kids learn how professional players pick their positions and cooperate with their teammates.
The mental part is often neglected in China, but it is very important. The Netherlands has about Beijing’s population, but our soccer team, hockey team and volleyball team are world-class. It’s quite remarkable, considering the size of the country, and I think this proves that our focus is right.
What’s the biggest difference between Chinese parents and Dutch parents when it comes to how they promote sports?
When Pieter was 11 years old, we were living in town, but we went to Riviera every weekend to play in group sports. We invited all the boys Peter’s age we could possibly find, Chinese and Westerners, and we organized events every weekend. We usually assigned them to different teams, and we did 20 minutes of football, 20 minutes of rugby and 20 minutes of hockey.
Obviously, some kids were good at football, some good at hockey, and some good at rugby, but which team would win? It had to be the team that understood “teamwork” the best. They needed to choose their best soccer player to lead the soccer game, the best hockey player to lead the hockey game, and the best rugby player to lead the rugby game. They needed to regroup every time there was another game, and they learned teamwork from it.
With regard to parents, I think Dutch parents have an overview of the importance of the team. As a consequence, we would think our kids are doing well only if their teams are doing well.
Instead, some Chinese parents only pay attention to how their kids are doing, not the team. Even for swimming, it is an individual sport but I think it’s still important for my daughter to understand that she is playing with a squad. They whole squad has only one coach.
Do you think Chinese parents support their kids playing sports?
Of course. A lot of Chinese parents support their kids playing sports, but I think many of them can do it in a better way. Chinese parents think if their kids really focus on one thing, they will do well in the end. They set a path and a goal for their kids and they want their kids to achieve it.
In my opinion, the most important thing is to make sure that your kids genuinely enjoy what they are doing, be it swimming, football or hockey, and they will develop by themselves.
Chinese parents actually focus very much on the well-being and future of their kids. Because of that, China will do very well in the future. But I would be even happier to see if some of the parents would do it with a different approach.
What’s the most important thing for parents to do with regards to sports education?
I think the most important thing is to set role models for your kids. Both my wife and I are very active. If you claim that sports are important but just stay in the couch and watch TV, your kids won’t follow your claim.
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Photos: Uni You