In the busy streets of Bengaluru, Raj and his father found themselves trapped in the sea of traffic. Sweating profusely while cramped inside an auto rickshaw, their frustration was mounting due to the hot weather and relentless honking. They had travelled for 500 Km all the way from a small village called Annigeri in Northern Karnataka as Raj was selected to compete in the Junior National Athletic Championships, which was happening in the city. Having arrived by train two days earlier, they were now headed to the stadium for practice. It was their first time here and they were not accustomed to the city’s lifestyle. The fancy buildings, the metro, and the big shopping malls sure intrigued them but they missed the serene environment and empty roads of their village.
When they reached the stadium, Raj was awestruck by the infrastructure. The seating capacity was humongous, “Our whole village can sit here and watch me run,” he told his father. The stadium was abuzz with athletes who were practising for their respective events. People from all across the country gathered here to compete in various sports like Running, Javelin, Shotput, and many more. Raj met and interacted with a lot of athletes from different parts of India – a boy from Punjab who was competing in Javelin, a high jumper from Nagaland, and a team of swimmers from Himachal.
Raj’s father who was also his coach felt a sense of joy seeing all these athletes. He reminisces about his playing days when the number of competing athletes was nearly half of what he was seeing now. Witnessing this growth of sporting culture in the country filled him with delight. He felt proud to have introduced Raj to sports at a very young age and seeing this progress brought a sense of satisfaction in him. His dream, shared by both father and son, is to see Raj represent India at the Olympics for which both are tirelessly working day and night.
Sporting Culture in India
India inherently has had an academically inclined culture among children, only those who had sporting parents enjoyed the luxury of being pushed into sports. For years parents would often look at sports for their children as a recreational activity and would often be sacrificed for time to study. However, there has been a massive pivot in this outlook in recent years, as parents have embraced sports due to a growing reality of earning a living through the discipline.
The boom in the sporting culture in India comes from a combination of factors such as government programs and schemes encouraging and supporting sports, a growing number of infrastructure projects both through public initiatives as well as private funds and the rising popularity of professional leagues in the country that offer a decent income to athletes. Easy access to the internet has also been instrumental in projecting sports to the remotest part of our country giving access to sports broadcasts and sharing successful sporting stories which in turn encourages a whole generation of athletes.
How can we inculcate sports in kids?
With the growing sporting culture and inherent benefits that sports bring to one’s health, it becomes vital for parents to encourage children to pick-up up sports recreationally from a young age. Making sports a part of a child’s daily routine by playing games with them at home or taking them to sporting events helps build a tradition centred around sports. It is also important to set a good example by being physically active as parents, as the biggest influence children have on their habits is their parents.
Inculcating sports in kids is an important investment in their future. It can help them to live healthier, happier, and more successful lives. Sports brings with it an array of benefits to both physical and mental health. Physically, sports can help to improve cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and flexibility. They can also help to reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic diseases. Mentally, sports can help to improve cognitive function, concentration, and self-esteem. They can also help to teach kids important life skills such as teamwork, discipline, and perseverance.
Here are some ways that could help inculcate sports in children:
- Start early: The earlier kids start participating in sports, the more likely they are to stick with it in the long run.
- Make it fun: Kids are more likely to stick with sports if they are having fun. Make sure to choose activities that they enjoy and that are age-appropriate.
- Be a role model: Kids learn by watching the adults in their lives. If you want your kids to be active, make sure to be active yourself.
- Encourage your kids to set goals: Help your kids set realistic goals for themselves and then help them to achieve them. This will help them to stay motivated and to develop a sense of accomplishment.
- Be patient: It takes time for kids to develop their skills and to learn to love sports. Be patient and supportive as they learn and grow.
- Do not worry about results: When the emphasis on winning or losing is high, the process becomes less enjoyable, hence reacting the same way whether a child wins or loses creates a comfortable space for children to express themselves.
By following these tips, you can help your kids to develop a lifelong love of sports. In this age of technology and gadgets, children very rarely engage in physical activities which can be harmful to their bodies in the long run. Through these practices we build a culture of sports, making accessing and enjoying sports more prominent and creating a platform for future generations to enjoy and inevitably excel in sports.