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Sports at grassroots: Why is it imperative for parents to motivate their kids to play?

Sports is not only necessary for physical and mental fitness but also for the overall personality development of a person.

Children playing football at a ground (Source: AFootball Report)

Children playing football at a ground (Source: AFootball Report)


Dr. Kanishka Pandey

Updated: 12 Jun 2021 2:01 PM GMT

"Sports has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way, little else does. It connects with the youth in the language they understand. It creates hope where once there was sadness. It throws light where once there was darkness"- Nelson Mandela

Contrary to what once Mandela thought, we Indians have a very blinkered view of Sports. For most of us, it's either a form of entertainment or a medium of competing, winning medals and by a stretch of liberality, we may say, of physical and mental development.

However, as Mandela suggests and what the researches over the years have proved that Sports has much more to offer than what we are currently utilizing. Sports helps in building the character and personality of a person, besides being an excellent medium for instilling values like discipline, respect, team spirit, decision making, keeping depression at bay besides many others.

Our ancestors clearly understood its importance and power and that is why it was very much a part of our culture and our education system. The GURUKUL System of Education which was one of the best in the world was based on the harmony of sports and academics. In the GURUKULS, a student was expected to master both the Shastras and shastras- By shastras, I mean archery, horse riding, wrestling. These disciplines were not Confined to the warrior class i.e KSHATRIYAS, but they were expected to be learned by the classes which were a part of our education system clearly substantiates my point that India always had a sports culture and in our education system- sport and academics were at par. It was this education system, it was this way of life, that made India great and produced great kings like Ashoka and great scholars like Chanakya.

We don't have it anymore. Parents, today expect their children to study and keep away from sports as they firmly believe in the age-old (but wrong) notion of Sports spoils. They believe that this way their children will be able to fulfill their dreams, aims, ambitions, and goals. However, what we forget is the fact that there are huge psychological and mental pressures that these aims, dreams, and ambitions bring with them. In this competitive world, the child needs to be prepared to handle this pressure of expectations. What better tool can there be than Sports to prepare the child for the world. Sports make a person accustomed to success- failures, pleasure-pains. It trains him or her to take these as a part of life and this trait can be used by this person in normal life too.

The researches have also proved that Sports is not only necessary for physical and mental fitness but also for the overall personality development of a person. The 16 values which a child learns in a playground help him in overcoming the most testing and traumatic situations in life. These 16 values help a person in leading a better life.

Therefore, it is imperative that parents encourage their children to participate in sports, it's imperative that parents motivate their kids to play. But why will they do that? Why will they send their children to play when they still live under the illusion that sports spoil their kids.

For this, a change in mindset is needed and the mindset can be changed by following the policy of carrot and stick.


By carrot I mean parent sensitization through Circulation of appeals, conducting talks, organizing lectures in schools, using print and electronic media for spreading awareness about the benefits of sports. People need to be told that Sports doesn't pose an obstacle in the road to success, instead it promotes and builds positive values in the child. They need to be told how Sports can prevent their child from falling prey to the clutches of depression.

However, not all agree and 100% implementation is necessary this is why the Stick comes into picture:

The stick

Having gone through more than 100 admission forms of top schools in India, I was kind of perplexed to find out the low or let's say Zero importance that had been attached to sports.

When parents are asked to fill up these forms of their children for admission at nursery level they're asked:

1. Whether your child knows the alphabet?

2. Is he/she familiar with numerals?

3. Can he identify colours?

4. Can he identify fruits?

5. Is he/she interested in singing?

This means parents know that if they want their wards to study in schools, they need to teach or at least generate interest in alphabets, numerals, Colors, fruits, so on so forth. Sports is nowhere to be seen.

I suggest that if the Govt. makes it obligatory for schools to include sports in their admission forms, it will, with one stroke change the picture. Questions like:

1. Can your child identify sports?

2. Which sports does your child take interest in?

This compulsory inclusion of questions on sports in admission forms will help in the following ways:

1. It will make it obligatory for the parents to teach or at least make sure they generate the interest of their children in sports.

2. The parents would know that if they don't give basic sports knowledge to their children, someone else might give and may result in their children not being admitted in schools of their choice.

3. It will have an everlasting impact on the psyche of young kids when they will be given equal information about alphabets, numerals, and sports.

4. The seeds of the importance of sports will get implanted by the parents right from the beginning of the formative years of the child.

And hence in this way, the mindset of the future generation can be transformed and we would have taken a small but firm step towards bringing back the sports culture in India.

Sports should be promoted not for medals but for creating a better and stronger Human Resource.

About the author

Dr. Kanishka Pandey is the Head of Sports Research Centre at IMT Ghaziabad; President of Sports: A Way of Life. He is an independent academic research for 3 years on sports to gauge its implication on physical and mental fitness of an individual and how it helps in building the character. It identifies 16 values that are earned in a playground and which can help an individual in overcoming the most traumatic and difficult situations.

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