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Can we become risk takers? Integrating sports in the school culture

You may call me a biased author as you read my thoughts on the importance of sports integration in school curriculum simply because I happen to be a mother of 11 year old who’s daily oxygen supply is based on kicking a football in whatever space he can find.

Wait I have more – Ajit Agarkar, my better half, started playing competitively at a tender age of 12 and went on to represent the country at 19 – the highest honour for any sportsman. My father, Moize Ghadially, who turns 75 this year, happens to have a post-graduation in Literature and Business Management but is a passionate sportsman. He defines his religion as “cricket”. He played a club match at the ripe age of 60 when his team had a player short! Not to be justyfy behind my brother, Mazhar represented Mumbai as part of the Ranji Trophy squad played all his life before joining the family business. My cousin, Dr Muffazal Lakdawala a leading surgeon in the country, still reckons his pace and skill as a bowler is his greatest achievement in life.

And then there was moi, who dreaded Sports Days in school as I had no real skill or talent and unfortunately back in our days, only the ones with talent were attended to! Yet, as Director of international schools, I always rooted for sports as a subject in the curriculum where no child was justyfy behind simply because the take- away for a child with this exposure in the formative years is simply tremendous.

You might argue that this affection to sports has something to do with the genes?

It may well be but, all the individuals above pursued their respective careers and chartered their own success but attributed a lot to the fact that they grew up with sports as an exposure. As Ajit often says: it taught him discipline, team work, patience, acceptance of things sometimes not working out but continuing to pursue his dream.

I recently read a beautiful article by Swati Popat Vats hailing a revolution for the inclusion of play as part of a pre-school routine. It is an alarming fact that increasingly in pre-schools the need to “learn” is taking away the importance of free play. So this then isn’t just a high school related issue, I think as a community we need to change our mindset and understand that as important stake holders in a child’s life – parents and educators- we have a responsibility towards these young minds and our attitude towards this form of physical exercise will define what our children gain. Without much ado, let’s get down to understanding why sports is extremely critical

  • Keeps The Childs Mind Active: Sports, indoor and outdoor, keeps the child’s mind active and alert.
  • Channelizes Negative Energy: Sports engages the mind and helps in channelizing a lot of negative energy, scientific study shows improved concentration, initiation of life skills such as communication, handling pressure in a match situation, team work etc.
  • Health and Fitness: I have not even touched the importance of health and fitness with physical exercises and the reduction of challenges we face as a result of our modern lifestyle.

With a back drop of all these positive influences, it is a real wonder then why as parents and educators we don’t do more to include sports as an integral part of the school curriculum, giving it the same importance that an English class or Math commands.

I have worked with many schools across the country and when a teacher is unable to complete her portion, the first period to be compromised is PE. Unless we change our attitude towards the subject as educators and parents (because the pressure on school management is clearly based on the expectation of the parents), we will never truly give our children the head start they need for life.

As Swati Popat Vats has said in her article, it is time we woke up and saved these children … before it is too late and we have to deal with behavioural issues and health challenges, all the consequences of our modern lifestyle.

I, for one, hope that we are nurturing 21st Century learners and equipping them with these life skills for a better tomorrow and a large part of these skills have some ready solutions in sports integration.

Can we allow our child to play for 2 hours before an exam the next day, or will we remain selfish as a grade is at stake? Will we think that physical play will tire the child out or think that it will help her/ him concentrate better?

Internalise and reflect, no easy decisions however a balance is surely possible.


Fatema Agarkar

Founder, Agarkar Centre of Excellence Veteran of 3 educational start-ups – is now a Founder of Agarkar Centre of Excellence, Fatema’s passion for teaching-learning and children defines the different roles she has crafted – as an edupreneur, educator and mentor.

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