India’s chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand feels the COVID-19 lockdown is the right time to focus on physical education and make everyone realise that sports is a priority.

Speaking during an online interaction, organised by ELMS Sports Foundation and the Reliance Foundation on Thursday with renowned Physical Literacy expert Margaret Whitehead, Head of WHO Collaborating Centre for Policy Research on Social Determinants of Health since 2005, Gopichand stressed the significant role Physical Education Teachers play in this regard.

“Any support system cannot just think of pushing PETs out of the picture. They are an integral part of any long-term plans to make India a sporting super power as it is they who at school-level will be the first one to spot the spark in the kids,” Gopichand felt.

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“It is the PETs who play the lead role in pushing sports to the centre stage and this is where Physical Literacy also serves the cause in a big way,” he said.

“There is a strong need to detach the kids from the electronic gadgets. No doubt, this is a worldwide problem now but here the parents play a bigger role by having at least some sort of restrictions like limiting the usage on a daily basis,” he added.

“There is no substitute for physical activity for any age-group. It was disappointing that a research in US found that only five per cent of those aged above 26 indulge in any physical activity,” he said.

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Seventy-one-year-old Margaret also felt that PETs must be respected to take physical literacy forward with different teaching strategies and innovative interactions. “There are many inspirational PETs who need to be given complete support,” she said.

Referring to the kids with special needs, the UK-based expert felt that their issues could be addressed by first knowing the areas where the potential can be tapped. “It is a different kind of challenge when dealing with each kid,” she added.

“Unfortunately, across the world and UK in particular, life is deemed important but not the body,” she concluded appealing for support from the community and the Governments to make any physical literacy programme successful.