After my experience of teaching the wonderful kids of Paranga, I knew I had to do more. The kids at the school had great potential and enthusiasm to learn new things. But what happens to this enthusiasm when there is no play involved? Apart from engaging kids in a physical activity, sports teaches important lessons on team spirit, teamwork, and leadership.
Sports education is also a great tool to encourage girls to engage in sports activities and build their self confidence. At Paranga, I noticed that there were only a handful of girls on the ground, playing sports like khokho or playing catch. The rest of the girls either stayed inside the classrooms or found a spot under the shade of a tree to chat. Sports seemed like a magnet that could tick their curiosity and pull them to the centre of the ground.
FINDING A NEED
While teaching the kids at Paranga Vidya Kendra, I realised that the school had only one official sport – Kabaddi. I realized that this restriction was born out of necessity. The school didn’t have the equipment necessary to teach their students more games and lacked the funds to purchase them. That’s how the Paranga Sports Project started.
To raise money, I turned to crowdfunding. The power of social media is best seen in situations like this. Through Ketto, I set up an official campaign and promoted this campaign on all social media channels. The need I felt was felt by many and the project collected more money than I asked for.
One kind lady responded to my Facebook post and sponsored football goalposts that cost upwards of 20k, and another donated a XXL sized field trampoline. The wholesale vendor I visited to purchase the gear and equipment offered to drop off the items free of charge. It definitely proved that kindness can be found at every turn.
RESPONSE FROM THE SCHOOL
The school was just as enthusiastic as I was and had prepared the day for sports festivities – Paranga finally had an annual sports day, where both girls and boys participated and played their hearts out.
A space had been cleared for a badminton court – the grass had been removed and the ground had been smoothened for the occasion. The assembly area had been cleared as well, and was ready to host football games.
That wasn’t all. Mr. Ramamurthy, the principal of the school didn’t want the kids to thin of these sports equipments as mere sports gears, but wanted to impart the value of this opportunity. A small inauguration was followed up by speeches, interactions, and Q&As, where the kids and I discussed the role of sports and its importance in our lives.
A GLIMPSE INTO PLAYTIME
The equipment itself varied from chess sets and other board games to rackets for badminton and hockey sticks. There were even some hula-hoops in the mix! By the time we were saying goodbye, the 10th standard students had already set up the football goal posts, the smaller children were jumping on the trampoline and even the teachers had gotten in on the fun – hula hooping for the first time in their lives!
Children were skipping with their brand new jump ropes (who knew there were so many ways to do it). Badminton rackets were also in high demand, with many aspiring Saina Nehwals and Pullela Gopichands in the student body.
Several students tried their hand at hockey for the first time. Being a novice hockey player myself, I was amazed at how effortlessly they picked up the game. It was also nice to see local sports like ‘Pitto’ and ‘Latto’ being played. Sports, indeed changed the landscape of the school.
Let’s take a look at the journey –
It’s been about a year since the equipment were set up. I’ve had several follow ups and small additions of equipment or protective gears. But our work hasn’t been completed yet. Sports equipment in itself isn’t enough to bridge the gap between education and sports – how do we enable education?
After speaking to some of the kids, teachers, and the principal, it came to my notice that Paranga doesn’t have special coaches to teach people about the different sports set up there. The teachers do their best to play with the children and teach them what they know – but how do we get the kids to be curious and find out more about the sports they are attempting to play? How do we get them interested to play the sports better?
There are 2 things I’m hoping to do in the next 6 months –
- Set up 2-3 master coaching classes, where sports enthusiasts and coaches can interact with the kids for a one-day camp and give kids some valuable insights on the different type of sports, rules, game playing techniques, channels that can help them learn more etc.
- Distribute illustrated sports guides that can help kids learn about the sports in a formal sports education environment. It will also encourage the school and the teachers to learn about the sports and use some class time to teach children via these illustrated guides.
Logistics and lack of time has been a big issue in getting the first proposal started, but with the help of Volunesia (Knowyourstar) and some other friends – I’m hoping to conduct these once the board exams for the year are done). These can be a part of a 2-7 days summer camp at Paranga if the school agrees.
We have, however, started work on the illustrated sports guides. The football guide is completed and the badminton guide is underway. The same will be distributed to the kids with the help of knowyourstar in the coming months.
Paranga is a big step towards a dream for inclusive education. It is my hope that we can help more schools inculcate sports education through the power of crowd-sourcing and use tools like the sports guides to make sports a part of our learning curriculum.
Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested to know more about the sports guides and want to use them to teach basic of sports in your school or community.