Probing the professionals
With two young sporty daughters, Mona Vale parents John and Tiffany Bonasera would sometimes find themselves clashing over their views on how best to guide and encourage their kids in their athletic endeavours.
Neither are short on expertise on the subject. Not only were they both enthusiastic sportspeople, but Tiffany is a sports journalist by trade – having most recently worked on Sports Tonight – and John is currently the general manager of football at the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
Nevertheless, as their kids Andie (13) and Milla (10) get older, and their sporting aspirations grow, John and Tiffany thought it would be beneficial for them personally to speak with elite sportspeople, coaches and professionals, and gain further insight.
“We then thought, ‘There’s probably other people in this situation, so let’s use the journalism skills we have and talk to people who may be able to help with their lived experience’… We wanted people to join us on this learning curve,” Tiffany tells Peninsula Living.
Just like that, their podcast SportsParenthood was born.
The podcast is now up to episode 12, with the pair having already interviewed Olympic athletes and coaches; NRL stars; and an AIS national talent identification boss, just to name a few.
And the common theme from the interviews so far?
“The most common theme without a shadow of a doubt has been that successful athletes have spread themselves across multiple sports,” John explains via Facetime, as he’s currently holed up in the NRL bubble.
“It was all about participation and trying your hand at a number of things. As parents, we’ve heard the importance of allowing your kids to find their own place in the world, or the sporting world, so they can choose their own path.”
Tiff nods, recalling an interview they had with three-time Olympic rower Jaime Fernandez.
“I loved his story, because a lot of parents panic thinking their children have to specialise in a sport at quite an early age if they’re going to make it,” she says.
“He was very active as a child, played a lot of sports, but he grew up in a very remote area of the Northern Territory nowhere near water, and he hadn’t even seen a row boat until he picked up an oar for the first time in Year 11… Four years later, he’s competing at his first Olympics.”
Manly fans are sure to get a kick out of the Bonaseras’ chat with the Trbojevic brothers, and while John has the means to fill the podcast with his Sea Eagles connections (and wouldn’t Des Hasler be a must-listen!), the pair recognise it’s important for their guests to come from a variety of backgrounds – like Canberran jockey Kayla Nisbet or Ian Thorpe’s long-time coach Tracey Menzies-Stegbauer.
“The feedback has been overwhelming,” Tiffany smiles. “When we have people stopping us in the supermarket or wherever just to tell us they love what we’re doing, and they’re learning from it, that’s all the motivation we need to keep going.”
To listen for free, visit sportsparenthood.com.au.