Lack of basic facilities hits children's interest in sports

Declining activity

Technology has spurred a new trend among the children of the city, and not all of it is healthy. Pursuing physical activity, exploring the great outdoors and playing games no more enthuse GenNow. Children, by and large, are more engaged with their smartphones, iPads, tabs and funky play stations, video games and television shows than with friends and family. The trend of outdoor games seems to have taken a big hit. Worse, for those who are still interested in playing outdoors, lack of proper playgrounds and facilities are a big deterrent.

Rohan, a student of class seven, who carries his cricket kit everyday to the playground tells Metrolife, “Since we don’t have a playground near our homes, my friends and I gather in school to play. The few parks that are there in our area, are restricted to old grandfathers and aunties and we aren’t allowed to play there.”

Moreover, because of the risks involved, the children aren’t allowed to play in
the streets. “Usually, those who come to play in the park are scolded by the
elderly. This scares the children and they run out of fear because of them...”
says Ram, a watchman at Green Park apartments.

Another student, Abishek Alhawat, a member of SB Cricket Youth club says, “one has to be a part of a club for playing for nationals and enrolling with them for selection.” The students also require a ground for practising which is provided by the club. Some clubs also charge students for providing coaching.

The city has some well known stadiums, including the Ambedkar Stadium for football, Feroz Shah Kotla Ground for cricket, which are officially allocated for national and international games only. The Ambedkar Stadium which is under the Municipal Corporation of Delhi is booked by NGOs and organisations for tournaments and other friendly matches.

Fifteen-year-old Usman plays along with his friends in the Hathiwala Park near Maharana Ranjit Singh Road, since there are no nearby playing grounds in his locality.
He says, “We only play during summer holidays. The academic session keep us busy with school and tuitions and we generally don’t go out to play during that time.”
“There is so much competition that we students cannot waste our time,” he adds.
Usman plays cricket with his school team at the school’s ground and if they have matches on Sundays they play near India Gate. With competition in every walk of life and the burden of a vast syllabus in schools, children barely take any interest in sports or pursuing physical activity.

“Playing and physical activities are equally important for a child’s growth which the
academicians and parents are ignoring,” rues Rachana Govil, executive director of stadium, Sports Authority of India (SAI).

Though most of the students give up their dreams of sports largely on account of their studies, some others do so because of lack of basic facilities at playgrounds
and equipments  Shiv Sharma, director coordinator, Sports Authority of India says, “We have a good number of playgrounds in the city including the five major stadiums and other small grounds run by the SAI and students are welcomed to
play there.”

Aware of the fact that public parks are not open to the children to play, he informs that the stadiums are open to general public and sports enthusiasts with nominal monthly charges.

There are children who have lost interest in outdoor games and have engrossed themselves in video games and play stations, much to the unhappiness of their parents. “My 14-year old son Anubhav doesn’t takes much interest in outdoor games. He simply spends his holidays and evenings playing computer games and play station and loves hanging out in malls,” says Hemlatha Singh, a housewife.

Today, sports remains as a curriculum of the schools alone. And, unfortunately, very few children are keen to participate willingly in them.

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