Today, the playground at St. Stanislaus School in Bandra, bustled with great activity. While some shot a few penalty kicks, others shot a basketball! The day was special as were the activities and the participants.
The activities were a part of a special event organised by Mumbai-based NGO Salaam Bombay Foundation with support from the BMC on the occasion of National Sports Day. The event was arranged specially for 100 female students of the organisation’s Sports Academy and their parents. The girls are all students of BMC schools and belong to lesser privileged backgrounds. The activities mostly revolved around cricket, football and hockey – the three sports that are taught in the Sports Academy. Cheering the participants on were Indian sports stalwarts Suma Shirur, Former Rifle Shooter who represented India at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Suraj Karkera, Indian field hockey player and Chaitrali Gawade, Khelo India Player was also present during the occasion.
The girls – all in the age group of 12 to 14 — and their parents bonded over sessions of Quick Fielding, a lead up game to cricket. The objective was to increase focus by aiming at the stumps. Then there was Hockey Fielding where participants dribbled through markers and shot towards the goal. The Balancing Activity consisted of racing with two table tennis rackets while balancing the ball.
Present at the event was the Gold’s Gym that focused on encouraging young girls to pursue fitness. A highlight of the event was some fitness activities that were arranged by Golds Gym that included the Pushup, Sit Up, Plank and Core Challenge. A session on career guidance for women in fitness was also arranged on the occasion. In addition to the games, workshops were conducted on health, fitness and nutrition to provide a holistic learning experience.
A unique feature of the event was that it was managed exclusively by former alumni of the Sports Academy. The playground gave them an opportunity to hone their event management skills and be role models for the current students of the academy.
Salaam Bombay Foundation believes in the pivotal role of sports in the life of young girls in particular. Sport teaches them resilience and gives them the skills to cope with their peculiar challenges; it teaches them that losing is as important as winning; to respect their bodies. The main thrust of this activity was to promote an enabling environment for gender equality, playing sports the tool by which girls and women can achieve their full potential.
Speaking about the unique celebrations, Gaurav Arora, Vice President, Projects (Skills & Sports), Salaam Bombay Foundation said, “While sport is known to play an important role in the life of youngsters with so many benefits, it is dismal to see that many girls who may have played and enjoyed sports before, give them up during adolescence. Girls are often found to drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys. At Salaam Bombay Foundation, we offer innovative programmes to provide girls with access to mentors, strong female role models and the social support of a team or group of peers. Today’s activity aimed to help our female students and their parents to bond over sports while also giving out a message to parents that they have a very essential role to play in encouraging their daughters’ sporting dreams.”
Parents too were convinced of their role in encouraging their daughters. Said, Linganna Chandrakant Mudguni, a parent, “We had such a great time today participating in these activities with our daughter. I now understand how it can help her in many aspects of her life. I realise the role I have to play.”
National Sports Day is celebrated on August 29 in India every year to mark the birth anniversary of Hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand who helped the nation win four Olympics gold medals in the years 1928, 1934 and 1936.