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Can schools create the next Ronaldo or Kohli?

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Sports will help create a generation that is fitter and healthier —Picture for representation
Sports will help create a generation that is fitter and healthier —Picture for representation

FATIMA AGARKAR 

Jobs, these days, are not as technical as they used to be. There are, in fact, more non-traditional career options, which are merging as sustainable career choices.

Twenty first century learning demands the development and nurturing of skills, attitudes and profiles that are beyond the textbook protocols. And therefore, schools committed to this ‘holistic’ education need to attach enough and equal importance to fine arts, performing arts and field activities as well as social awareness. Children have their own unique talent and many of these lie beyond academics. Jobs, these days, are not as technical as they used to be. There are, in fact, more non-traditional career options, which are merging as sustainable career choices. Case in point – the emergence of sporting leagues in India – Kabbadi, Cricket, Football, Badminton etc. A decade ago, parents would have discouraged children from pursuing sports as a career, asking them to focus on academic success simply because there weren’t enough sustainable career options in sports. The world has most definitely changed since then, and thankfully our children have more options today than ever before.

So questions are often asked about the role of a school in creating these champions. Can schools nurture talent? Can we create the next generation Ronaldo, Federer, Bolt or closer to home, Virat Kohli?

For an educator, a passionate sports enthusiast, and a mother of a child who loves sports, it is perhaps, hope combined with strategy to make this happen. To be fair, nurturing talent requires a mindset that is open-minded and acknowledges that it is as important a discipline as Math, Science. Once the ‘sporty’ vision is cemented, it is a matter of laying out processes and systems that offer children opportunities.

Long discussions with many who have represented the country, those you currently train talent in their academies and parents have concluded one thing for sure — it isn’t the effort of one stakeholder alone, but the combined forces that create champions. The school, however, is an important cog in the wheel, which allows families the safety net and the support required. But for me, the school also presents unique opportunities to ignite that passion and exposure to children whose families may not have the resources to do so.

I believe it requires a bit of planning, time-tabling adjustment within those 50 or 54 periods allocated each week, and deploying coaches that work on a well-rounded sports curriculum, and define individual lesson plans for those who are quick to receive this exposure and those who might need a bit of motivation. Participation in events that allow for children to compete with others outside of their own school environment provides valuable learning opportunities. I have always believed that practice matches should be scheduled with teams that are more talented than your own ones to encourage children to up their game. Schools should use their infrastructure to motivate children.

Students who have a natural aptitude for sports will need extended training, and I am sure well-meaning families will ensure that this happens post school hours. But, the seed of this passion for sports will have to be sowed by schools.

And it isn’t about creating champions alone, sports will help create a generation that is fitter, healthier and one that learns while playing!

Childhood should be about this.

The writer is Educationist and Founder of KA EduAssociates