Sporting heroes can teach pupils values of self-belief, mental toughness and how to cope with losing, says education secretary Damian Hinds.
Mr Hinds used the example of England captain Harry Kane not winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday, and being "dumped" by Arsenal’s youth team as a boy.
Writing for The Sun newspaper, Mr Hinds said: “Competitive sport instils the kind of self-belief that enabled an eight-year-old Harry Kane to overcome the humiliation of being dumped by Arsenal’s youth team.
“Kane’s response to not winning Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday night was to say, 'Hopefully in the years to come I can try and win it'.
Mr Hinds, who last month said children should climb trees and take up yoga, today launched the Sport Action Plan to promote competitive sport in schools.
He said he wanted schoolchildren to develop “character and resilience” at school to help them deal with the “ups and downs of life”.
Children 'shouldn't be wrapped up in cotton wool'
Mr Hinds said: “Some people believe that children should be wrapped in cotton wool, protected from some of the harsher realities of life for as long as possible. I don’t agree. Failure and disappointment aren’t necessarily a bad thing – we’ll all face them at some point in our lives. It’s how you cope with them that counts.”
He also praised England manager Gareth Southgate and Sports Personality of the Year winner Geraint Thomas for their mental toughness.
He said: “There is a lot we can learn from the sporting world here. Sport can help us all dream big and achieve more. It can teach us how to win gracefully and lose with dignity.
“One day my children will fail at something that truly matters to them – I don’t want them to give up and go home, I want them to respond like Harry Kane."
“Talent can take you so far. Good luck may occasionally give you the rub of the green. But it is perseverance and dedication; bravery and commitment that will enable you to reach your goals.”