From performance to participation: The future of sport and development in India
Currently in India, sport is all about winning medals at the Olympics and winning laurels for the country. But this can only be achieved when sport thrives at the grassroots, providing children and youth with more than just a chance to play and compete; it would help them to become well-rounded, empowered individuals. Sport for development programmes in the future in India will help achieve the dual role of introducing children to physical activity and sports and aiding in their holistic development.
Currently, sport in India is top heavy, with too much focus on elite performance and apathy towards taking sport as a fun activity to the young masses. This is a gap that the sport and development sector can fill, by ensuring greater access to, and participation of, youth and children in sport at the grassroots, while at the same time ensuring that they take away much more than just learning about sports from the programmes delivered. This approach will thrive through educational institutions, including schools and colleges in both rural and urban India, especially in government and private institutions catering to marginalised populations.
The sport and development programmes delivered will focus on the social, emotional and mental well-being of children and youth. They will teach them soft skills and assist in their personality development, which are currently lacking in educational curricula. Learning values like teamwork, effective communication, leadership, respect, fair play, self-esteem, resilience and confidence through sport will not only assist children and youth to become responsible and active citizens, but also directly impact and improve the performance of those participants who take up sport more seriously. The multiple benefits will be attractive to a variety of stakeholders from both the sport and development sectors.
Such programmes through educational institutions will ensure a greater number of children stay in school and higher education, in particular girls. Moreover, these programmes will provide girls and boys equal opportunities to participate in sports activities, interacting and learning to work with one another, promoting gender equality within the institutions.
Through such programmes in the future, I hope to see the convergence of the sport for development and sport development fields in India, as I believe them to be two sides of the same coin. Most importantly, this convergence will ensure maximum impact on the beneficiaries, the children and youth of the country.
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]