Education is an integral part for human development. Every child growing up in our country should embrace studies in schools. However, along with studies, one more vital ingredient to develop a child is school sports and recreational activity.
Everyone in India seems to agree that children should play, and also the fact that more children should play as often as possible. However, the real problem that stands today is not, ‘Why should children play?’ But rather ‘where’ they should play?
With growing urbanization, open ground spaces are disappearing in metro cities, as well as tier I and II towns. Also, with ever increasing number of vehicles and traffic congestion, the commute time for parents and children is a hassle. Today, even if your child has joined a sports academy, he/she spends an hour travelling to-and-from the sports venue. In addition, this duty falls on the parents and they must arrange transport or drive the child and wait around, while the child plays/trains. Most Indian parents do not have such a luxury of time or resources.
Due to a combination of disappearing open spaces/playgrounds near our homes and the hassles involved in commute, children are not playing as much as they used to a generation ago. This has contributed to significant increase in obesity levels, mental disorders and lack of social skills amongst children.
However, a reasonable solution to this problem is encouraging school sports. Schools present the scalable and sustainable resolution for getting children to play. It is here that we can solve these problems by making sports an integral part of education.
Let’s take a look at some of the critical hurdles in empowering school sports:
Promoting School Sports through Physical Education
Every class in India, on an average has around 30-50 children of a similar age, height and weight category. This keeps repeating every year. If our education institutions embrace school sports, there is no need of separate transport logistics to be managed by parents. The Physical Education timetable that runs round the year can be converted into a school sports calendar.
School Sports – Synchronization of children:
Physical Education (PE) and school sports are mandatory in all faculties (though it is often followed merely in letter than in spirit). So, all the children in a class come out at the same time during their PE/Sports period.
School sports crumble due to lack of Space
Today, due to urbanization even schools of major cities are cramped up and lack open spaces for school sports. Most schools do have some space for children to play, but it is very limited. To tackle this issue, the schools can structure and design games that use limited time and space.
Lack of space in schools is often touted as a reason for not conducting the in-school PE/school sports program. But, most sports programs for children can be covered in a basketball court-sized space.
Adults make a common mistake of confusing sports with match play and visualize large grounds when they think of sport. However, if you analyze a professional sports team’s practice calendar, you will find that they spend time on three aspects: fitness, skills and match play.
They spend 80% of their time on developing fitness and skills required to play the game better. For this, they use a small corner of the ground, never the whole field. If professional teams can work with small spaces, why can’t we get our children to play in schools?
School sports Fees
School sports and PE is and should be an integral part of education. Parents pay fees and the fees cover PE and sports for all children, along with other studies. But not every school uses the fees to encourage sports. Parents expect their child to be taught physical education and sports with the same structure, rigor, individual assessment, daily lesson plans and by a trained teacher – just as they would for Math or Science. It would be wonderful is the educational facilities actually utilize the fees in developing school sports.
Not only budgets, but also space and time have to be aligned, based on the number of students in school. With all the resources at hand, it is only sensible for schools to make sports compulsory and run it efficiently.
A structured sports education program ensures the best use of the limited space and time available in a school. As parents and responsible citizens, we need to demand more from our children’s in-school physical education and sports Program so that children get the benefit of the fees paid to the schools.
Sports need to be made compulsory in schools, just like Mathematics or Science. Remember that sport is a kind of education that builds character.
Here are a few simple ways in which each and every one of us can help build a school sports culture in India:
Encourage your child to participate in school sports
It is not compulsory that every child who participates in school sports has to become great sportsperson. Yet this will go a long way in creating a positive impression about sport in the minds of young children, and they also get an opportunity to figure out if at all they are genuinely interested in pursuing sports.
This will enable the children to identify their passion for a particular sport and hone their talent. An additional benefit, needless to add, is children adopting a healthy lifestyle.
School Sports – Increasing the Local Sporting Events and making them more accessible
Many a times, there are sporting events happening in a locality near us, but we miss them as there is no awareness created about them. Keep an eye out for them through your local newspapers, or the governing bodies or sports clubs in your neighborhood. In case there’s a lack of these events, people can get together and organize more of such events to give a chance to more children to participate. Education facilities can tie up with sports promoters like us to market and create awareness about the school sports events happening.
School Sports – Make sports stars as role models and icons
Every child idolizes a pop star, a movie star or an instagram celebrity. However, not every child grows up idolizing sports stars as their role models. It is the duty of the school as well as parents to expose children to inspirational stories of sports athletes and inspire them with their talent, dedication and their success.
School Sports – Let students use sports as a rewarding career option
A child or a teenager will be automatically motivated to better one’s game if they are nurtured with positive thoughts about sports. The status of sports in India will not change overnight. However, small steps taken by each of us will take us to a point where we finally start to see improvement. The onus is on each citizen to start moving in this direction.
Within the household itself, we can begin to introduce sports. Playing together as a family will be a child’s initiation into sport, which can further be carried into his/her growing up years and finally, adulthood.
While these are a few steps to start a change at a personal level, to build a culture of sports we need to also affect a change at a national level. We as the citizen of India must ensure that we have a system that supports school sports, and sports in general. And what better way to do that than by making sports a compulsory subject in schools?
Keep in mind that only when sports become a part of our school curriculum, will the status of sports be elevated in our society. If children were to take part in sports daily in their formative years, we are raising a generation of youth conscious, aware and naturally inclined to sports.
The onus to nurture India’s next great sports person lies on each and every one of us. If we wish to elevate India’s ranking in the sporting world, we have to actively build a culture of sports. And for that to happen, we need to fight the existing prejudice against sports.
It’s a refreshing thing that the current Government of India is encouraging school sports in the form Khelo India School Games. If many such events are organized on local level as well, sports shall get a tremendous boost in the coming years.
School Sports: KreedOn, an Indian sports media’s opinion
Here are some of the most common reasons parents give when asked about sports:
- Sport is such a waste of time
- Sport has no future. Concentrate on your studies if you want a successful career!
- Sport isn’t meant for girls. You’ll get tanned and look masculine.
- What if you get a scar while playing sports? Who will marry you then?
- Thoda khel kya liya, khud ko khiladi samajhne lage!
- Sport is just a hobby – a distraction from studies.
- You need to focus on your exams – sports won’t help you score marks.
- What will you do after you get married? Sports won’t feed your family.
- Our hard earned money is to ensure that you have good education – not to play sports.
In conclusion, we would like to opine that it is the above mentioned reasons, which deprives the children of the opportunity to discover their passion for a particular sport. At some level, every parent feels that sports as a career option is not as rewarding or as respectful as that of a doctor, an engineer or a MBA graduate. It is due to this reason, knowingly or unknowingly, we may have lost out on numerous would-have-been champions, owing to this flawed thinking!