HYDERABAD: On the occasion of launching AITA - SportsCult Championship Series Tennis Tournament that concluded on December 13, noted medical expert in the field of sports, Dr Bakhtiar Chowdary mentioned, “What Telangana needs is a fitness revolution.”
Though a number of running events and cycling marathons were conducted in the year 2014, in view of rising levels of fitness awareness, Dr Bakhtiar feels that when it comes to “ice-cream kids of urban cities -- they are not fit enough to excel in sports.” He also pointed out to the fact that a big number of schools in the city have no dedicated sports grounds, limiting students to classrooms.
Munmun Sharma, teacher at Gitanjali Senior School, touted as one among the top schools in the city, says students from the school excel in academics because that is the school’s primary area of focus. “Recently three students got selected for the U-14 cricket tournament at the State-level. But considering the strength of the school, three is a small number,” she points out.
Also a parent, Munmun, out of her self-interest has been sending her son for Cricket coaching. At a recent selection trial, though he plays well, he lost out because he went in through the ‘open selection’ category. “When a kid is trained under a reputed coach, that adds a lot of value. Those kids are given preference and their play is watched thoroughly, unlike kids who enter through the open category,” she explains.
Lakshman Rao, father of a 12-year-old Delhi Public School student also sends his son for football caosching. “My son goes for Football practice every weekend. Our son is interested in the sport and I also play when I go with him,” says Lakshman Rao who also plays Badminton every morning.
Parents like Munmun and Lakshman Rao are capable of coughing a certain amount apart from school fees and are flexible with timings to ensure that their children spend some time on physical activity. But this is not a common phenomenon.
Padma Lakshmi, a housewife and a mother of two children wishes that schools include sports trainers as well.
“My children leave home at 7:30 a.m and come back at 4 p.m. They don’t have time for extra-curricular. I wish that they play a sport, considering the amount of time they spend on gadgets these days. But it is a task,” she rues, adding that their class schedules include one games hour and one physical training hour every week. “How much value does it add to their physical development?” she wonders.
Munmun’s observes,”Kids are interested in sports, but not in PT classes drills . Hence, instead of those classes, a dedicated sports coach, can add more value,” she opines.
The picture, however, is not as rosy.
“One or two teachers won’t be able to train so many kids.” Dr Bakhtiar agrees.. “Though I have been on the field for 21 years, I have been under-utilised,” he said at the meet.
If one scans through the schools in Hyderabad, it is only a handful schools that stress on over all development of a student, where playing a sport tops the list. Parents feel that interest in sports among school children, like everything else should begin at school. Munmum gives us the example of Hyderabad Public School that stresses on a student’s all-round development and says, “If one school can strike a balance between academics and sports, then every other school can, if not at the same scale”
Lakshman Rao also points to another important factor -- how sports play a major role in determining a person’s career graph. “When I started my career, the organisation conducted a lot of inter-team sports activities,” he recalls.
Abhishek Arora, a finance professional who also plays Basketball for his team in Deloitte. “There is a huge budget allocated for sports in our company and matches are conducted yearly on weekends in different kinds of sports -- football, basketball, cricket and a number of indoor sports too,” he says.“If there are two members in two different teams with the same profile and ranking, and if one guy has played or won matches for his team, he definitely comes into the light. It adds to the points and everyone benefits,” he informs out of experience.