You are here

Sticks for change: Education and high performance training for development

Copyrights: Khorshed Talati/Tata Trusts

Sticks for change: Education and high performance training for development

Khorshed Talati provides commentary on the future of sport and development in India and how sport programmes can create opportunities through education.

Sport is one of the strongest change agents in the world. It has the power to unite a country, yet divide a room full of people when their favourite teams are playing. It breaks down divisive lines to bring people together for their team and their country. Sport inculcates a belief that “I can make a difference” for my team, for my country and become a source of national pride.

Today, elite sport dominates much of the global news with lucrative contracts, rags to riches stories and soaring revenues. However, the road to glory is tough and often ridden with more stumbling blocks than enablers. I spent the past year setting up a hockey academy and grassroots programme in a tribal dominated region in India. The experience has been humbling. Hockey sticks fashioned out of bamboo, barefoot stars of tomorrow running on hot, dirt pitches riddled with stones. A far cry from luxurious artificial turf, these kids play with determination in their veins and passion for hockey in their hearts.

This region is plagued with a history of left extremism, with poverty and a lack of job opportunities driving many youth to join such groups. In such a scenario, providing hockey training in their own villages and schools by world-class hockey players brings hope into their lives—hope that their inherent talent can be honed and they can become the stars of tomorrow. That they can have a brighter future forged in bonds of brotherhood. But, the importance of education in high performance training cannot be underestimated. Every player who makes it to a professional level is assured of a government job. This provides livelihood security but also starts a lifetime of ‘not excelling’ because it wasn’t their career of choice. This is a tragedy for players who all their life worked hard to achieve excellence. Plus, most children wouldn’t even make it pro - what happens to them?

In the future, I would like to see more of the European model in India: where children complete their education alongside rigorous training, temporarily take a break when they go pro and later return to their studies. This way they are qualified for a profession of their choice and a chance to excel in their second career. India requires more of this system—a high-performance grassroots programme mixed with quality education and life skills. A culture of education embedded into professional play for a brighter future for all.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]


Article type



Khorshed Talati


Monday, September 25, 2017 - 16:55