Earlier this year, a prominent sports brand launched the ‘Let There Be Sport’ campaign, featuring stars such as Virat Kohli, MC Mary Kom, and Sunil Chhetri. The primary aim of the campaign was to challenge the traditional notion that sports are inferior to academics and to emphasise that they could teach vital life skills. Experts believe as well that sports should be accorded a larger space in the curriculum in educational institutions across the country as they can help foster both physical and mental strength in students.
“Previously, when parents looked for schools, their primary focus was on academic aspects. This attitude has undergone a significant transformation as they now want a school environment for their children that is holistic and focuses on sports as well. As an educator, I too feel that alongside academic activities, our emphasis should be on motivating children to actively participate in sports,” says the founder of the nationwide TreeHouse chain of schools, Rajesh Bhatia.
He suggests that occasions like National Education Day should also be viewed as opportunities to consider innovative changes in traditional syllabi. “UNESCO states in its ‘Values Education through Sport’ report, that sports promote active learning, complement cognitive skills, encourage responsibility, and enhance concentration and participation among students. Therefore, dynamic forms of values-based education using sports should be prioritised in schools,” says Mr. Bhatia.
Mr Bhatia also highlighted the achievements of young students from TreeHouse schools in Gujarat who have excelled in both sports and academics. These include Aditi Ghahat, who secured a silver medal in the under-11 category at the DSO Skating Competition, Vrushti Patel, the second runner-up in the Khelo India Women’s Road Cycling League, and Prateek Jadhav, who earned a Gold Medal in Kata and a Bronze in Kumite, among many others.
Highlighting the UNICEF report on the ‘Power of Sports to Shape the Future of Adolescents,’ Mr Bhatia says that sports can serve as a valuable entry point into life skills-based education and a healthy lifestyle. Sports also enhance overall development, facilitate learning, and contribute to improved academic performance. “Most importantly, sports teach children to push past their limits. Basketball legend Michael Jordan also said once that limits, like fears, are often just an illusion. Once children learn to not give up, they can take on any challenge within a sports arena and beyond it,” concludes Mr Bhatia.