The importance, rather the necessity, of sports and games in students’ life has not been sufficiently recognized, understood nor appreciated by society as a whole, even by most educationalist. Simple observation of the wonders of life on this planet will lead us to draw substantial lessons of the need for calibrated physical activity for development of the body, mind and spirit. We see all around us the playfulness and exuberance of the young ones of all the species of animals, birds and fish. This is nature’s way of teaching the young a set of life skills essential for survival in a harsh world. Whilst they prank around they are actually developing coordination of various limbs, muscle and sinew, sharpness of reaction and quick response, intellect & eye acuity, team response etc. In a similar manner the human child needs ‘khel kuud’ for sound and effective growth. From experience I believe a naughty child makes a smarter man. We all know of the playfulness and pranks of ‘Lord Krishna’ as a youngster, and my God, what a revelation he gave to the whole world about life itself!
Sporting activity in educational institutions must strive to fulfil many objectives. The cornerstone of the sports policy has to be the ‘right of all to sports’. This sounds pretty simple, but I can assure you it is quite complex and encompasses facets that have not been hither before given due importance. For example the policy should take care of the varying needs of the youth by recognizing that their individual needs are dependent upon their inherent physical and mental capacities, which vary greatly from person to person. Hence the sporting curriculum must be expansive and be able to offer a suitable outlet according to every student’s persona.
Most importantly the policy must be authentic. The unstated but practical approach of most institutions towards sports is to work with their institutional teams to win laurels for their alma mater. This in essence means selecting a few physically well-endowed individuals; focus on their training and on winning trophies for the institution. The coaches are lauded and managements satisfied. Unfortunately, this approach is unfair and unauthentic. It caters to the needs of a few and for the glory of the institution. The participation in a meaningful sporting activity by the majority of the students is conveniently overlooked and their role is often confined to that of clapping and cheering for the few sporting heroes.
Is it a fair practice to charge the same fees for all yet deliver the benefits of sports & games to a few and deliver a weak program to the rest? Certainly not! Sports managements must relook at this aspect and invest much more in their sports curriculum and activities than is presently thought sufficient. It is every child’s right.
Educationalist have all along talked of the desirability of all round development, holistic development or inclusive development. I like to call it ‘The Canopy Education Approach’. Plant a sapling in the right environment, nourish it, allow it to sprout branches in every direction and watch it grow into a healthy, stable and strong tree; the one that provides shade, bears flowers and is laden with fruit- a beautiful tree with a balanced and well-rounded canopy. We must treat and handle every child like a sapling. We should provide the perfect environ for the child to grow all around- in academics, sports, performing and creative arts, adventure & outdoors, multi- cultural interaction, debating, quizzing, moral values & etiquette. We must seek to see every child as a multi-faceted, healthy, stable and strong adult- the one with a beautifully balanced personality.
It is my firm conviction that physical activity through sports and games is an essential ingredient for the personality development of every student. I strongly believe and advocate that academics and sports are compatible and actually complimentary in realizing the child’s full potential.
- Gurbir Singh, Director – Sports & Student Welfare