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Supporting sports parents: building resilience

Devesh Patel, Academic Associate

By experiencing its ups and downs, cricket has provided me with many life lessons and made me the individual that I am today.

What inspired my research?

During school, I was quite reserved and lacked confidence. While I had some level of intelligence, I didn't achieve the top grades. However, my involvement in sports taught me the importance of hard work. The success I achieved in sports not only influenced my academic life, but also shaped my career path. Still, to this day, I am interested in how different sports provide different challenges, and how these challenges can help people with different circumstances to develop and grow.

Growing up in an Asian family, cricket played a significant role in our family, and I have fond memories of watching matches with my grandparents during summer breaks. My extended family also had a vested interest in cricket and advised my parents to let me join a cricket club. With immense support from my family, (and much to my surprise!) I was selected to play county cricket aged nine. With every good game and contribution to my team’s positive performances, my confidence increased.

Of course, there were bad games too, but by experiencing these ups and downs, I learned many life lessons. From learning patience and how to be a team player, to being humble, it really shaped me into the individual I am today. Cricket also provided me with a whole range of opportunities, which I was lucky to have at my disposal. From meeting, playing with and training with professional and ex-professional players to touring countries like India and Dubai to eventually going to the prestigious public school, Uppingham, I owe a lot to cricket and what it has given me. As I think back as well, cricket has given me some great memories, all of which I still cherish today.

My progress in cricket fuelled my desire to become a professional cricketer. Though that dream had to be set aside as there were others more competent than me, I remained committed to building a career in the sports industry. Whilst at Uppingham, I was able to take Physical Education (PE) as an A level and it was here that my career journey began. Taking PE enabled me to pursue a degree in Sport, Coaching and Physical Education at Oxford Brookes University. Coaching was always something that fascinated me - I always thought that my people skills and my knowledge of cricket would give me the right tools to coach at a wide range of levels.

As part of my degree, I had the opportunity to take a Sport Psychology module, which fascinated me. I found it intriguing to understand why certain athletes had a mental edge over others, and how this enabled them to consistently experience success. This helped me to realise that, in sport, we must focus on the person first, and the athlete later.

  • Devesh Patel
    Devesh Patel, Academic Associate
  • Devesh Patel
    Devesh's research focuses on developing resilience amongst sporting parents
  • Devesh's time spent playing competitive sport as a youth has influenced his research
  • Devesh Patel
    Alongside his PhD, Devesh leads undergraduate research seminars

After my undergraduate degree, I then went on to pursue two master’s degrees, one being an MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology at the University of Stirling, and the other being an MSc in Psychology at NTU. During and after these degrees, I completed coaching badges in football and cricket. The All-Stars Cricket programme had just been introduced by the England and Wales Cricket Board and I was given the responsibility to take charge of this for my club. Coaching 5–8-year-olds was really fun, as the children brought a lot of energy with them and I was able to use that energy to involve them in fun activities, passing on my passion for cricket to the next generation.

Understanding a parents' role in their child's sport

These experiences have led me to the role I am in right now. I am currently an Academic Associate at NTU, with two aspects to the role – part-time teaching and a part-time PhD. My PhD research involves investigating and developing parental resilience in youth sport. I knew this would be a good fit for me, given my background in coaching and my experience developing relationships and rapport with parents (specifically from the All-Stars programme). I have seen firsthand that parents play a key role in their child’s sport and without them, youth sport would not exist today.

Through my research, I’ve understood that parents experience many different demands both within and away from their child’s sport, which can impact their well-being. Recognising the essential role parents and carers play in their child's athletic journey, I aim to bridge the gap between sports parenting and sport resilience research. My goal is to identify key psychological characteristics that can help parents and carers to effectively manage demands and maintain their psychological well-being while supporting their children in sports.

I am currently planning an intervention to develop parental resilience amongst the parents and carers of young cricket players. Later down the line, I would like to implement this intervention on a wider scale, not only focusing on cricket but with other sports that I’m not as familiar with. It will also be important to understand how people from different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds interpret parental resilience. Many of my participants have tended to be within the White British middle-class population, so I'd like to capture under-represented perspectives more in the future and find out how their experiences compare.

My experience at NTU

Ever since I started my role at NTU, I’ve always felt comfortable and I feel that I play a key part in my department. From a research perspective, my supervisors have been supportive throughout my early career so far and have played a huge part in my development. They have also made me believe that I am capable and can achieve big things as a PhD student here at NTU. Being a researcher has been a very fulfilling role that has helped me to develop in many different ways. I enjoy the different tasks that I have been asked to fulfill within this role, and the challenges I have been able to overcome.

Follow my story

My story doesn’t end here. Keep up to date with me and my research by keeping an eye on my academic profile or following me on Twitter @devesh012. For anything else, please feel free to email me.

Devesh Patel

Devesh Patel is an Academic Associate, completing a part time PhD and teaching part time. His PhD is focusing on Parental Resilience in Youth Sport and he leads seminars in the Year 1 Foundations in Sport and Exercise Psychology and Year 2 Practical Applications in Sport Psychology modules.

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