MUMBAI, India, 5 July 2010 – Students in Shivadi Wadala Municipal School in Mumabi get to play as much they like without being pestered by their teachers and parents. These elders no longer consider sport as a waste of time or a distraction from studies.
Rather they have come to believe, through the past two years experience of Sport for Development programme , that engagement in physical education and sport contributes in the children’s overall development.
This experience demonstrating power of sport came forth in a specially organized programme on 29 June 2010 in the Municipal School, one of the project sites of Sport for Development programme in Mumbai.
The occasion was graced with the presence of well known actor Ali Asgar who appreciated the motivated efforts of the Physical Education teachers and community sport coaches in implementing the programme. Mr. Ali not only listened to their experiences but also participated in play sessions.
International Inspiration – Sport for Development (S4D) is being implemented by UNICEF with active involvement of government schools and community groups in select rural and urban sites in Maharashtra.
Explaining the basic objective of the programme Mr. Ramchandra Begur, Programme Officer Education UNICEF, said, “S4D aims to establish children’s fundamental right to play and recreation by helping to increase opportunities for children to participate in sport.”
The programme strives to utilize sports as a medium to address issues related to education and development thus providing an opportunity for all round development of children, he added.
S4D activities are undertaken in schools and communities in seven municipal wards in Mumbai city and Zilla Parishad schools in rural areas in Chandrapur district with the help of well trained team PE teachers and community sports coaches. Physical Education Teachers coordinate the activities in schools, while in slums and villages’ young boys and girls have been trained as Community Sports Coaches (CSC)
PE teachers and CSCs shared how they have implemented the programme in their respective places. They admitted that S4D training has significantly changed their own perception about sports. Now they regard PE and sport is equally important as academics and it has become an important medium for inculcation of social values and skills.
“Major problem in overcrowded cities like Mumbai is to get a space to play,” said Raju Jadhav, one of the community sports coaches. But he was so motivated that he took the challenge of turning the waste dumping area in his locality into a playground. A group of boys worked for four days and cleared off two truck loads of waste to prepare a space for them to play. “The children in my locality had never ever seen a football except on television, but now they participate in football tournaments organized locally,” said the proud coach.
“We stopped being strict and over disciplined as earlier,” said Mr. Vijay Shere, a senior PE l teacher from Municipal School. “We realized sport is a very powerful way to channelize children’s energies in a constructive way. We allow them to play even after school hours” said Mr Bhangre, Principal of Shivdi Wadala Municpal School. Student enrollment in this school has increased two-fold in past two years and the teacher relates this with increased emphasis on sport.
“All children are equal and deserve equally good opportunities to grow and blossom,” uphold Mr. Ali and appreciated the S4D initiative as a ‘worthy investment’ in this respect.
Agreeing with the core belief of S4D Mr. Ali said, “Sport is a good medium to develop self-discipline and leadership; the qualities that are long lasting and fundamental to healthy living.”
Mr. Ali opined that the teachers role is not restricted to the academic performance but for the overall development of the child. Hence in his concluding note he appealed to all schools to give equal importance to academic, sports and recreational activities.