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Building cooperation through team sports

Copyrights: Pro Sport Development

Building cooperation through team sports

A diamond cricket tournament organised by Pro Sport Development in Bhubaneswar, with support from Tata Trusts, used an innovative format to emphasise and build teamwork and communication.

There is a common phenomenon in youth sports, particularly at the pre-teen level, that team games come to be dominated by individual players, far more so than when the participants get older. Unfortunately, this means that while certain players can develop leadership skills, broader sporting lessons of teamwork and communication are sometimes lost.

To counter this, the Bhubaneswar-based Community Sports programme (CSP), implemented by Pro Sport Development and supported by Tata Trusts, designs and implements activities to actively promote inclusion, equality, cooperation and team building.

The latest event on the programme, a diamond cricket tournament, was indicative of this goal. The event was held on Saturday 10 February at Beenabharati Vidya Mandir School in Bharatpur slum and was attended by 120 children (60 girls and 60 boys) between the ages of 11 and 14 from the seven schools on the programme.

The emphasis on teamwork and communication was ensured by a rule that any ball hit in the air outside of the marked pitch area would see a batter given out, reducing the ability of individual players to dominate. The tactical change introduced by this rule was embraced most fully by the eventual winners, Government Ashram School.

The only government school on the programme, Goverment Ashram School had been unable to participate in the previous CSP events. But the regular CSP sessions had shown the school to be full of promising leaders, both male and female.

The key to their triumph in their first ever multi-school sports event was that the children quickly worked out an ingenious ‘bunt-and-run’ strategy, with all their batters trying to lightly tap the ball to their left side before running to first base.

As no fielders were allowed within the square, by the time a fielder could get to the ball, the speedy runners from Government Ashram had reached their next base. The speed with which they developed and embraced this strategy demonstrated the decision-making skills and ability to think on one’s feet that are the hallmarks of good leaders.

The children from Government Ashram School eventually used this tactic to perfection in the final to score nine runs in their innings, which proved to be an insurmountable total.

After the tournament, the young Government Ashram players emphasised the importance of their teamwork. Their captain, 11-year-old male Sadhuram Chattar, said: “We won the final match because we had communication, self-confidence and great coordination between the team. All the team worked hard and helped each other.” His teammate, 11-year-old female Sukumari Munda, added: “This is the first time we have played in a competition like this. I am very happy. In the first match I was nervous but by the second match I played confidently.”

All of the children embraced the format and played with energy and passion. They were heartily cheered on by a huge contingent of children from the host school, who had turned out to support the event and their teams.

In comments after the event, most of the children emphasised the need for cooperation and communication, with a breakdown in teamwork and/or communication usually blamed for the defeats. But the defining feature of their comments was the enjoyment they took from the event whether they won or lost.

This was best summed up by 11-year-old female Khadija Moin, from Vivekananda Siksha Kendra school in Dum Duma slum, who said: “I was so happy playing in this event because when I was playing the game, I believed in myself.”

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Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 12:44