'Children need some physical activity'

Lashing Out

'Children need some physical activity'

The attitude towards sports in the country is something that agitates Ashish Ballal, former goalkeeper of field hockey.

The lukewarm interest shown by authorities, the lack of encouragement in schools and the undermined importance to sports in general has Ashish raising
his eyebrows. He points out that sports is crying for attention in the country.

“We need a pro-active sports minister. Also, sports must be made compulsory for all students. It’s high-time that it is made a part of the curriculum,” he says. Pointing out that 75 percent of children below the age of 12 are obese, Ashish says, “Children need some physical activity. It’s not enough to have bookish knowledge. There is a need to ensure holistic growth.”

Recounting an incident, Ashish explains, “I recently met a young child who said he gets up with a spring on Fridays to go to school. Because they have sports hour on that day. It’s ridiculous to have sports classes just once a week. Kids really want to play but the increasing amount of homework has made it tough for them. We need to throw the concept of marks into the dustbin. We will then see the wonders that sports can do.”

But Ashish says it’s comforting that parents are waking up to the benefits of sports. “There are numerous qualities that sports teach. In fact, these days with the suicide rates rising among youngsters, it has become more of a necessity,” he feels.

Ashish, who has been supporting children affected by HIV/AIDS, says, “When
well-known people are part of a cause, they are sure to send out a strong message to
society. Helping the children is a yeoman service. As a sportsperson, I’m so happy that they are being encouraged to take part in sports. And I’m thrilled that I’ve got a chance to spend some time with them.”

So what is the hockey player’s fitness regimen? “I exercise control on what goes into the mouth,” he quips, adding, “Moderation is really the key.” Encouraging those interested in taking up sports as a career, Ashish says, “There are a lot of opportunities if one encourages the god-given talent. But it’s important to be passionate all the way. Remember, one must follow one’s dreams.”

“I wouldn’t change my profession for any other job in the world. It’s a wonderful career. Of course, with a lot of hard work and sacrifice. But what follows is amazing,” he signs off.

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