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Promoting female sport at the grassroots in India


Promoting female sport at the grassroots in India

The recent success of Indian sportswomen in the global sporting arena should be utilised as a springboard to promote the sustainable participation of young girls in sport. Moreover, stakeholders must ensure that policies regarding the development of sport at the grassroots encourage female participation.

Indian sportswomen have been making us proud in the past months, by bringing laurels to the country in a variety of sports. Saina Nehwal has had an excellent year, finishing as a runner-up in both the All England and World Badminton Championships, while currently World No. 1 in the rankings. Sania Mirza became the first Indian women ever to win the Wimbledon doubles championship in July this year, and is currently ranked World No. 1. Lesser known Indian women’s footballer, Aditi Chauhan, made history by being the first Indian women to be signed by a top English club, West Ham United.

These sporting achievements by Indian women must be utilised to promote sport among young girls in India. India has always had sporting icons in the past, but most have been men. The emergence of female Indian sporting icons will make it easier for young girls to identify with them and look up to them as role models, thus encouraging their participation in sport. These success stories of female athletes must be talked about in schools and playgrounds, and must also include other stakeholders such as young boys, teachers and parents, who, in the background of India’s social context, are reluctant to encourage girls’ participation in sport. They must be made aware that girls too can play sport, and excel at it, which must be highlighted by the success of these Indian sportswomen.

Along with this, it is crucial for different stakeholders in the Indian sporting ecosystem to ensure policies are put in place to encourage female participation. Firstly, play spaces at schools and communities, as well as government sporting venues, must be made safe, so that girls feel comfortable in participating without fear. Secondly, female representation among PE teachers and sports coaches as part of public and private institutions, must be increased. Women must be encouraged by family and friends to take up sport as a viable career option. Thirdly, these personnel must be trained to ensure active female participation in all sports activity across society. They must be sensitised on being aware of the added needs of female athletes and educated on safeguarding and protecting children, including girls.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Suheil F. Tandon


Sunday, August 23, 2015 - 23:00