Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Roundtable on Sports in Education

The other day I attended a roundtable entitled, “1st Roundtable 2012 on Importance of Sports in Education.” It was hosted by a company called Worlddidac as well as FICCI and took place in a makeshift conference room set up right in the middle of the Pragati Maidan Exhibition Hall where hundreds of organizations were showcasing their products or services to players within India’s vast education and exponentially growing industry.  

I appreciated the opportunity to participate in a discussion about this topic as it is close to my heart.  Growing up in California, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend schools which took physical education seriously and showed this by providing daily opportunities to play, high quality sports equipment and coaches who understood how to create sporting environments which were conducive to growth and fun. Looking  back, it is easy to attribute much of my "success" in life from the skills I developed on my school playgrounds.  I’ve worked with schools in India for 3 years now and have seen firsthand the lack of priority that physical education has in the country’s school system. It’s not that schools and parents don’t let their kids play; it’s that policies and culture are not aligned to promote and support play and life development through sport.
I certainly don’t know how to transform this issue overnight and by myself which is why I was happy to be part of a discussion to learn more about the topic from experts and share my experiences in both the US and India.  The roundtable lasted for about 2 hours and, as I normally do, I’m sharing my experiences in list form below:

The Great
  1. The fact that leaders representing education, government and sports have taken interest to host a roundtable on this topic
  2. The excellent turnout of people representing government, education, sports, media, agencies, community groups, corporate companies and NGOs
  3. NDTV’s discussion about their “Marks for Sports” campaign which showcased the important role media can play in influencing government

The Good
  1. There were some clear recommendations which came out of the discussion mainly focusing on policy, infrastructure and awareness building
  2. Catching up with  friends Rajesh Jain (Director, Conscient Group) and Priti Srivastava (Reliance) after a long time
  3. Watching the youthful, positive energy of certain individuals in the room help to drown out the frequent seas of pessimism which would surface

The Bad
  1. Listening to people who spend too much time trying to sell the concept of why sports are important in today’s education system to a room full of people who clearly support this idea
  2. Listening to individuals who monopolize everyone’s time by discussing irrelevant anecdotes taken from their life experiences 40 years ago which don’t further the conversation or objective of the roundtable
  3. The fact that it is 2012 and this topic is only now being considered important and that to a select group of individuals who have taken on the initiative to host this relevant and timely roundtable

All in all, it was an interesting experience and I thank Worlddidac and FICCI for putting together a great event. I hope I get the opportunity to be a part of more of them in the future…

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