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Freddie Flintoff MBE acknowledges a debt to his father for his love of cricket. Speaking when he launched the 2007 ASDA Kwik Cricket tournament at Regents Park he told of how his father took him and his brother around the club cricket circuit from a very early age.

But it is not only those who have reached the top of their sport who have benefited from sharing the passions of those who they already respect and love.

The good news is that, despite long hours of work, when the pressure is on, dads are still finding ways to spend time with their kids. Surprisingly, a recent University of Maryland study reported that in 1965 dads spent 2.5 hours per week with their kids and that by 2003 this had risen to 7 hours per week.

Modern technology is allowing more fathers to use time saved in travelling less to make a significant difference to their children’s development

Boys are programmed to learn the gross motor skills needed to become hunter gatherers, but fathers playing with their girls can also be very beneficial in helping develop the neural pathways that can easily atrophy if girls are not exposed to pursuits that have traditionally been seen to be more risky.

Roland Warren, President of the National Fatherhood Initiative in the USA comments: “It is easy for a dad to get sucked into the provider role and stay at work where he has control of his environment . . . but a good father is guiding and nurturing too.” The benefits are obvious for both dads and children.

Fathers use different vocabulary, have different interests, enjoy physical play, the rough and tumble that strengthens limbs and the sense of competition

Kevin Bowring, Head of Elite Coaching for the RFU, says that it is vital to give children “fundamental multi–sports experiences” in the early years. The emphasis is on the fun to lay good foundations and prevent our best sportsmen and women peaking too early. The good news is that at this stage you don’t have to be an expert to make a really valuable contribution.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is building on this research to provide a really practical structure with ASDA Kwik Cricket, where boys and girls compete together in an atmosphere that develops social and physical skills. Above all, it is a game that families can play together.