True Sport Spotlight: Parent Profile - Bryan Merrett

Bryan Merrett is no stranger to True Sport. In fact, early in his career, he was involved in the development and growth of True Sport across Canada.

“In those early days, there were many like-minded people looking for something to attach their lived sport experience to. True Sport gave them an outlet, something tangible and actionable to share with their children and athletes, said Mr. Merrett, noting that True Sport has influenced his own approach to sport with his kids.

Image of Bryan Merrett

“Take for example my son who has pretty good dribbling skills in soccer as a nine-year-old. Of course, he wants to score goals, so when he was dribbling the ball, I challenged him to do a ‘rainbow move’ while running. As a parent coach, I have challenged him to do that, or other skills, in a game instead of focusing only on winning,” he said, explaining that an emphasis on True Sport helps maintain perspective.

“Winning is important, but the sport experience is a journey with many twists and turns, with many ‘players’ required. How we treat others, how we strive to do our best, how we help others participate and grow in the game are fundamental parts of the lived enjoyment of sport,” said Mr. Merrett.

One of the reasons Mr. Merrett decided to commit to True Sport was because he wanted his children to play and enjoy the experience of sport, which he hopes they will carry with them into adulthood.

“In becoming a parent coach, I made sure the training and playing environments were safe and welcoming and created a space that permitted mistakes and fostered learning. This environment needed to be grounded in a core set of values and principles, and True Sport provided a natural entry point.”

His passion and commitment to living the True Sport Principles has already made a lasting impression on his children’s experiences in sport.

“Recently, I caught my eldest daughter doing an assignment where she had to apply the True Sport Principles to a movie or event. Funny thing is that when it was introduced in the class, my daughter said all her friends turned to her and said, ‘Bryan Merrett would love this!’ Once she got over being mortified, she realized how integral True Sport has been to her sport experiences.”

On another occasion, his daughter’s soccer team planned a bake sale to raise money in support of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and they took pride in giving back to their community.

Mr. Merrett continues to teach his younger children the importance of respecting officials and opponents, doing their best, and including everyone.

In addition, he notes that he and his wife have high expectations of those coaching their children because of the impact coaches can have on their desire to continue in sport.

Of course, being a parent with children in sport is not without its challenges. To Mr. Merrett, the most challenging part is the influence of outside forces that create teachable moments.

“As a parent and coach, I can influence my group and model positive behaviour, but other teams and coaches may not have the same type of values, similar to real life,” explained Mr. Merrett. “As humans, we do not agree with everyone we come in contact with. So as a parent, in sport, I am continually educating and checking myself to model good behaviours to show the children that you can maintain your values and still enjoy the experience.”

He believes that True Sport can be used as a guide and starting point to have meaningful conversations about the importance of good sport experiences.

“Continual reinforcement of the True Sport Principles makes it easy for athletes to do the right thing at the right time. The principles provide young people with a roadmap to help them make decisions and solve problems.”

Mr. Merrett advises parents to prioritize the important aspects of sport within the context of their child’s life, and importantly, to ensure that children are participating in a safe and welcoming environment that allows them to learn, be challenged, and have fun.