In India, 29th August, is celebrated as National Sports Day in the memory of Maj. Dhyan Chand, who was born on this day in the year 1905 in Allahabad, UP. I am really keen to state a few things about him. Maj. Dhyan Chand had two brothers, Shri Mool Singh Ji & Shri Roop Singh Ji (who also became an excellent Hockey player). He joined Indian Army at the age of 16. There is a belief that his name was changed from Dhyan Singh to Dhyan Chand because he used to practice in the night when the moon would appear which was after his duty hours (In the earlier days nobody knew that he was good in Hockey, hence no excuse for the practice during duty hours). As the Hindi meaning of Moon is ‘Chand’ hence he was called by his friends as Dhyan Chand. He retired from the army as the Major and his promotions were mainly due to his extra ordinary skills of the game of Hockey. It would not be an exaggeration to state that in those days and even today Hockey is synonymous to the name Dhyan Chand. He represented India in Olympics and won Gold Medal in 1928, 1932 & 1936. We salute this man who brought glory to this game & India and was a force to reckon with in Hockey in those days. If we talk about present, this particular game has not been followed and played by many. The performance of Indian Hockey Team in recent times and particularly in Rio Olympics though was satisfactory, but they needed to learn something from the wizard like Maj. Dhyan Chand. Not only Hockey, there is a lot of criticism regarding performance of our players in almost all the games except a very few like Badminton, Shooting etc. There was a lot of hype before the players and officials accompanying them left for Brazil but as the game progressed there was disappointment all round and as usually happens in democratic India, people started finding faults in every other person and organisation. This country is moving fast in the art of criticising after the event and now our PM has also announced the formation of a task force which will suggest the ways so that the performance of our players improves in the upcoming 2020, 2024 & 2028 Olympics. This probably has satisfied all intellectuals who discuss aggressively on TV Channels & in their drawing rooms. But I think, if we wish to ensure the performance of our players then they should be caught ‘young’ and for this the children at school level should be identified and encouraged. This should be done in both types of schools, Government as well as private. The mindset of the public and the parents should also change towards games & sports and it should not be seen as the area of those who are not able to do anything else. We should encourage those children who are good at any of the games. These children should be given some scholarships at that age also and not shower the prizes and money only after they win any medal for the Country. If we see, in the last few Olympics or the World Games, the efforts of individuals have yielded some results and India could have its name in medal tally of Olympics from 1996 onwards. It may not be great to mention that there was no medal won by any of our players in three consecutive Olympics [1984 LA, (USA), 1988 South Korea and 1992 Barcelona (Spain)]. Before that in 1980 in Moscow Olympics, we got a medal (Gold) courtesy Hockey Team that too because about 64 countries had boycotted these games because of the invasion of USSR on Afghanistan. Many people do not understand why should we have not been talking about the same before the Rio Olympics and why only after that. In London Olympics (2012) our ranking was 55 but before that in (2008) China Olympics, this was 50. Why did we not take corrective measures from then or even before that also? Anyway let us leave talking about why this did not happen or that did not happen but try to understand whether the kind of prizes in cash or kind which are given to our achievers in Olympics and other games (Cricket may be an exception) help the children and youth to select games as their career and an important way of serving the nation and bring glory to the people of this great country which is second largest in population. The entire nation is looking at P V Sindhu and Sakshi Malik’s medals, prizes, money, titles and other benefits conferred upon them however, did anyone even try to know the number of practice hours/ days or years invested, by these players, to reach that perfection and flawless performance.
I have mentioned a number of times in different contexts that if this country is to be moved forward and has to excel in any field, then the children and the schools should be given the maximum attention. Schools are the only place which can change the destiny of this country for better. The government should spend money on providing infrastructure so that the children get encouraged to take games & sports as a career. Physical Education teachers should not only be responsible for the discipline in the school but as a very important person who can motivate children towards games & sports and train them at young age to perform well in the area of interest of the child. The government should ensure and make it binding on schools that no schools will be given permission to operate if there are no proper grounds and qualified physical education teachers. Many of you will agree that inspection teams do look at Labs and dance rooms etc., seriously but at times the sports infrastructure is not given that attention as required. There are schools which mark the field with racing tracks, goal posts, flags etc., to impress the team on the day of inspection and there is no follow up once the affiliation is granted. It would be interesting to find out how many schools in our country have proper and adequate games & sports facilities and how much budget is allocated to the physical education department and how much of that is spent properly every year. During the period of dim phases (due to Rio Olympics debacle), I tried to look in and around and was sorry to note that all these people who cry for the medals, want their children to go to other field but not games & sports. When the parents were approached many of them said that there was no career in this field hence they want their children to pursue academics than ‘wasting’ time on the ground. They may have point in that but most important thing is that games & sports are very essential otherwise also. They enhance the personality of child and ensure overall growth of mind & body which is so important for an individual. This is good that our players should be acknowledged and appreciated but will the money or BMW cars showered on them help to perform superior now than before? Has this motivated the potential players to come out and perform better in future? Though to say either way is not easy but some examples may be an indicator. Mary Com won the medal (Bronze) in London Olympics and was showered with the same kind of things. Though she had won five times World Amateur Championship before that, but was noticed by the people only after winning the medal in Olympics. Now observe what happened after that. How many players got motivated & opted for their career in boxing? Abhinav Bindra won the Gold Medal in 10m air rifle event in Beijing Olympics in 2008. He was also given a lot of encouragement after that but what happened thereafter? How much could he perform or how many others were motivated? So it is not necessary that the Government gives enormous amount of money to the winners after they win a position but this is true that the Govt. has the responsibility and duty to prepare them (players) to win medals. Whatever money has been given to the players is alright but if that was spent before they win medals, we would have got more feathers in our cap. I am not against the support the winners need but the discrimination after winning. This money only should not be incentive but the support to the individuals and teams before the tournament/competition is very important.
I would like to mention the following points for the consideration here:
1. The education boards should ensure that games & sports are authentically played in the schools.
2. The schools should give incentive to the children who do well in games & sports.
3. The parents should be counselled and advised to encourage and allow their children to be the part of games & sports.
4. The Education Department organises many events every year. They should provide proper training and incentive to the children (all those who participate)
5. More money should be allocated for games & sports.
6. Qualified coaches should be engaged by the schools.
7. The most important of them is that favouritism should be completely avoided.
8. Any achievement in games and sports should be given the same credit as anybody getting while qualifying for IITs or the likes.
9. The teachers should also help the children to strike a balance between studies and games & sports activities.
10. And the most important of all this is that the children should be made strong physically and mentally so that they can face all the challenges of life. AC classrooms & buses are alright but these do make our children physically weak. The natural environment will make our children healthy and they will be able to perform better.
The HM of our school drafted a letter addressed to the CBSE (few years back) and shared the same with us. This seems to be an excellent idea which desires the option for the children from class V onwards where they can opt for games & sports as a subject in lieu of some so called major subjects (like EVS & Science etc). This does not mean that these children will pursue their career in this field only but can think of changing at later stage in VIII/IX class. In classes, VI-VII such children may not be forced to study EVS or Science that much as other students do. If some of them are still keen to continue sports as career then same can be continued in IX & X classes and in the higher classes as well. For such children preference should be given to be employed in Army/Navy/Para-military forces & Railways and other fields also.
In the end, I would like to reiterate that sports facilities are important and should be given their due by all concerned. This will really help our nation through its healthy children & citizens.