Our schools in Mumbai carry a legacy of producing national and international athletes, but this cannot make up for the masses of other students who often go through their school life without interacting with sports in any capacity. Outside the customary two hours of Physical Education periods, most students don't find the confidence to sign up for extra sports training the schools might have to offer; and without that extra nudge from the right mentors, they find that their ten formative years have passed by just like that.
Getting into sports and its allied fields
A school might be equipped with state-of-the-art sporting infrastructure but only active participation from the majority of its students will do justice to sports education. The key here is to understand that the realm of sports, even at a schooling level, is not merely limited to players’ participation.
In addition to coaches and trainers, sports teams should be assisted by students who wish or have an interest in various assist roles such as analysts who study game data, content writers who create narratives around the team, photographers who capture moments, and social media managers who handle the team's presence on different platforms. These roles help with communication, branding, administration, and engaging school students, and parents.
Ensuring all-round development
Moving away from the stress laid on accolades, sports assures the mental and physical strengthening of children. This should be the goal of any school that is willing to offer its students this opportunity. With a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities, students learn to strike a balance between academics, sports, and of course, having fun, very early on in life. Once children have access to mental health counsellors, supportive coaches, and teachers, then schools should face no problem seeing an entire batch of smart, fit all round students.
The author is a former goalkeeper, the Indian National Football Team, and Governing Council Member, International Sports University, Maharashtra. He is also a jury member for The FPJ Mumbai Schools Survey 2023.