Bhubaneswar, February 26: The Sports Authority of India took a massive step towards empowering female athletes during the Khelo India University Games here, organising a 2-day workshop to increase awareness about their own bodies and cycles.
Among the key messages, the panelists emphasised that women should chart their own training regimens simply because their bodies are physiologically very different from their male counterparts. Attended by a number of KIUG participants, the sessions turned out to be eye-openers for a number of young women. The workshop was attended by Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Trupti Murgunde and prominent track and field athlete Anuradha Biswal as well.
Dr. Poornima Raman, Head Physiotherapist, Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), underlining the primary differences between a man and a woman’s body, spent a fair amount of time on the issues faced by women athletes due to menstruation. She explained how a controlled diet and the right practice plan could ensure zero effect on their preparations or indeed on their performances on match days.
The menstrual cycle refers to the regular changes that a woman's body goes through to prepare for pregnancy. In a recent study, more than half of the elite female athletes had reported that hormonal fluctuations during their menstrual cycle negatively affected their training and performance capacities.
However, it has also been reported that Olympic Gold medals have been won by females during their menstrual-cycle phases.
"These workshops are really important for athletes because for all of them, the number one requirement is awareness and education and I think the basics start from here. A base needs to be set and then we can spread awareness to a wider group of athletes," Dr. Raman said.
The physiotherapist conducted an interactive session, wherein she encouraged athletes to ask questions about the issues they face during training and certain myths about menstruation. Dr. Raman expressed that she was very happy with the way the athletes came forward and spoke about their concerns.
"I was very happy with the interactions with the athletes, in fact, I was very happy with their coaches as well. They said their coaches openly talk about menstruation with the athletes. It was a really good interactive session," Dr. Raman explained.
Following Dr. Raman's session, Dr. Amit Malik, Vice President of ELMS Sports Foundation, explained the need to strike a balance between sports and education.
"Education and sport are going hand in hand across the world. One should learn education through sports and learn sports through education. I was very keen to find out what the athletes go through during the education process and I will put across my feedback to the concerned committee in the government," Dr. Malik said.
On Day 2, the Sports Authority of India organised another session with Dr. Zenia Samar, Senior Physiotherapist, Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ). Dr. Samar spoke to the athletes about the usage of banned substances and the subsequent consequences faced by athletes.
"We spoke about the basics of anti-doping. It's important for these athletes to know about the rules and regulations for doping. We spoke about prohibited substances, Ayurvedic supplements, the banned lists and so on. A lot of cases have happened where athletes have taken banned substances unintentionally, therefore these workshops are very important at the grassroots level," he said.
One of the participants, a football player from Goa University, thanked the Sports Authority of India for organising such a workshop. She said, "It was a wonderful experience being here at the workshop. There are a lot of things that I did not know earlier and I have got to know now.
“I liked the session by Poornima ma'am, it was very informative. It was quite interesting to know about the myths around menstrual cycles. This is a nice initiative taken by the government because the Khelo India University Games is not only about playing but other things related to sports such as nutrition. I think today's session has really helped us, so thumbs up to Khelo India for organizing this workshop."