Is India a sporting nation? Is there any sports culture in this country? Hardly anybody will give positive responses to these questions. Why? Because, our athletes are not successful at the international level! Because, the sporting federations of our country are reactive or inactive! Because, we do not have sports icons in disciplines except cricket! Because, even today, no comprehensive career direction is available to the young sports talents!
True, all these points are true. Our success, at the international arena of sports, is very limited. From the 1952 Helsinki Olympics to 2012 London Olympics, we won only a few Gold Medals while China won 38 Gold Medals only in 2012 London Olympics. This highlights our failure of producing champions in sports.
Is there any other purpose of sports apart from winning medals? We often tend to misinterpret sport. We do not see the other side of sports which is equally, or more, important. Let us confess that we are not a sporting nation! We are only arm-chair critics, we just follow sports. Do we participate? No! Do we want our children to participate in sports? No! Why not? As there is no career direction available! We often say that our sports organizations have done nothing to promote sports as a career option. But don’t we need fitness? Don’t we need a healthy society which can contribute to the development of this great nation significantly? Ideally ‘yes’ and actually ‘no’, which means we say ‘yes’ and do ‘no’! Are we aware that lack of physical activities creates physical and mental problems? Let us see what may happen if a child does not participate in sports and leads an unhealthy life.
The first problem is obesity. What is obesity? In simple words, obesity is a condition in which excess body fat is accumulated to such an extent that it may affect the health adversely. A study shows that 20% of the school going children of India are overweight and 15% of the students’ population of the country are at the risk of being overweight. Another study of Diabetes Foundation of India reveals that three out of ten children of private schools suffer from the problem of obesity. Obesity is the reason for various diseases. It causes high blood pressure and high cholesterol which may increase the possibilities of cardiovascular diseases. Obesity may cause type II diabetes, breathing problems, sleeping problems, asthma, joint problems, fatty lever disease etc. And what about poor self esteem! The obese children often suffer from inferiority complex because of their health. They often get bullied by the other children in the class. It is unfortunate, but true! Are we ready to destroy the lives of our children like this?
This is not the end! Have we heard of motor-skill disorders? It is a coordination disorder, also known as motor dyspraxia, which is often observed among children. This disorder prevents a child from analyzing and executing motor activities and as a result they suffer from various health problems. A child, suffering from this disorder, cannot execute movement skills properly, such as walking, running, jumping etc. They face difficulties in using objects such as a pencil or a paper or a spoon or a cup. They have the tendency of dropping objects as the coordination is not perfect. Subsequently, they cannot actively take part in a number of activities, like dancing, painting, catching, swimming etc. It may act upon their study as well.
Do we want this to happen to our children? Do we blame our sports federations for not having any comprehensive career plan in sports? And then relax! Even if the child is suffering! No, certainly not! Let’s wake up and encourage our children in sports to make them fit, physically and mentally. Let’s make sports and PE as integral part of our education system and give it a structure so that the progress of the children can be evaluated. Let us put pressure on the decision makers and make it happen. We need a fit and healthy India. Let’s make India a sporting nation. Let’s play sports.
“You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through study of Gita” - Swami Vivekananda
The author is a Faculty member at the Department of Sports Management, IISWBM, Kolkata