Growing up in a city like Mumbai, you almost feel like the North-South, East-West side of wherever you live will determine if you have access to facilities that can allow young children the space to express themselves through play.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t that the cityÂ is devoid of spaces – from all the maidans and gymkhanas to the gardens and sports centers, many of our top athletes have emerged from this city but perhaps, the point being that sport isn’t just about achievement and laurels, it is a lifestyle choice and one that we must be initiated early on so that problems that the western world is grappling with – one in every 3 adults is obese and not to mention the medical challenges with it, don’t become our problems, we have enough of that in any case.
At JBCN Â we believe, sports is about skill and talent but it is also about fitness, strategy and camaraderie. If viewed only through the eyes of a spectator looking for the winner, most children will drop out of a race. And this is where the problem lies.
We are yet, as a city grappling with stereotypes – many parents even today, will prefer to have their girl’s swim, play basketball rather than take to football or cricket. With this attitude, we single-handedly deny them in their younger days, the joy of being on the park and playing a ball sport. And there are lessons to be learnt, all body workouts to be gained not to mention team building exercises, bringing children across age groups together.
Take any country in the western world, the simple act of running uphill/downhill on the streets, cross country treks, boating, swimming, rafting, rock climbing, adventure sports etc is part of every child’s existence and assumes a critical part of their daily life. In our city, it is indoor and sedate activities that govern our children’s lives.
This mindset for our children needs to change and we need to lead by example – instead of organizing an ipad indoor party, create a bicycle track for them in the building, and cycle with them; instead of mall time, let them just run up and down a park and play ball with them; instead of creative writing classes, if children could be encouraged to walk and play sport, we would lead to a fitter city in time.
For example, Sport at JBCN International Schools is integral to all our curriculum plans – every child does everything without exception and all embedded into the time-table, not before or after but part of the program. It leads to greater concentration, channelizes energy, motivates children and in every sense makes the day an action filled one with activities and learning.
Our Advisory Panelist, Mr Ajit Agarkar, an ex India fast bowler commented, ” it is not about form or technique when a 6 year old is attempting to push the ball, it is about the sheer joy of running that leads to the child eating better and hopefully healthy food, so that he emerges fitter in time to then pursue his dream of playing football one day. You can’t coach at that age…. it is about freedom and also about parents respecting that this is the only time children will play with freedom…. by the time they get to under 14, the pressure takes over. Give children the freedom to fall in love with the sport and not hate it!”
Taking a leaf from his book, it is critical that parents and educators value the importance of sport in a child’s life and balance other activities around it. Health is the backbone of one’s existence, and a healthy child is one that explores different sports without the fear of excellence, eats well and assumed the balance we all look for as adults.
Also, it can’t be an excuse, that there isn’t space around the apartment to do this – from push ups and games in your house, to simple acts of cycling, hide and seek, to box cricket and football goals, there’s plenty that you can manage in a limited amount of space.
It is about a mindset. Time for change??
We think yes at JBCN!
This article is contributed by Mrs. Fatima Agarkar, Trustee JBCN International Group of Schools
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