Dr. Ramanuj Ganguly, president of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, started the session ‘Catch them young: How to revolutionise school and college sports’ at the Sportstar East Sports Conclave in Kolkata, saying ,“I have taken charge of WBBSE for the past seven months. I have been a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya. I have seen a lot of change in approach when it comes to the education system in school.
“The possibilities are enormous. Culturally, the country wouldn’t warm up to sports in the curriculum. When dealing with a huge quantum of population, we must deal with both sports and studies. Schools can be the cradle of traditional clubs and academies. They can take it up from where we leave the kids at.”
Richard Gasper, principal and director, St Augustine’s School, gave the house an idea of holistic education. He said, “As Leander (Paes) said earlier (in a session) today, that the students, these days, are under a lot of pressure. I would like to say that schools are not creating the pressure, but it is the boards. There should be a balance between academies, sports, co-curricular activities and social work.”
Stressing on the importance of discipline and how sport helps incorporate that in your life, Gasper added: “If students have sports in their curriculum, it will automatically bring discipline.
“The Anglo-Indian schools have always promoted sports from a very young age. We have many tournaments and have tryouts for our different teams. We have seen parents getting excited at those tryouts, wanting their child to be selected. We have a shooting facility and Olympian Joydeep Karmakar runs it. In one of my tours to schools in Boston, I found out they value their students with the number of medals they have won.”
Sanjib Sinha, deputy commissioner of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, provided an insight into how sports are conducted in KVs. He said, “We are giving huge importance to sports. Right from class I, we have made participation in sports mandatory, be it in any form. Every day there is a period dedicated to sports. This is structured and levelled in different forms. First, the competition is between the schools itself. Then the students go to compete at the cluster level with 8-10 other schools. After that, there are regional competitions, and Kolkata is one such region.”
For the younger schoolgoers, there are fun activities as well. “For Primary sections (I-V) we have a ‘bagless day’. It is basically a fun day, on which the students show their talents - be it sports, music or painting. From class VI, we have one period of games every day and it is in between classes, so no one can be absent or run away.”
Sushil Mohta, chairman of the Merlin Group, elucidated how schools can lay the building base for an athlete. “Schools play a big part in building students and sports is an inseparable part of character-building. However, society has to realise only schools cannot do it. Everyone has to come forward as a whole to contribute.
‘Need to get off screens’
“We are not sweating enough. During our childhood, we played wherever we could. From playgrounds to parking lots... All of that happens on a screen now. From cricket to football... Beg to differ that only one day or period should be dedicated to let children play in school. There should be a whole day,” Mohta said.
The Sportstar East Sports Conclave was held in association with Hero We Care - a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, Indian Oil, Shiv-Naresh, Rau’s IAS Study Circle, Pinnacle Infotech, Maithan Alloys Ltd, Merlin Group, SRMB, Techno India Group’s Sister Nivedita University, Meghbela Broadband and Indian Bank.