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  • Writer's pictureThe "SaY" Magazine

Sports & Education

By: Fatema Agarkar (Co-Founder KA EduAssociates)

My topic for this month’s issue is one that is close to heart. 

Growing up in family that loves sport, in particular, cricket has shaped the way I think and guide school managements across the country, urging them to treat sport as a curriculum subject just like any other for its importance at any stage of a child’s learning journey cannot be emphasised enough.  Here’s my story to put this vision into perspective for you and why I strongly believe in its seamless inclusion as an inter-disciplinary subject in school curriculums be it national or international and I tend to be very gender neutral, so for me every girl and boy are the same and must have exposure to this format. 

A sportsman’s daughter (my father, Moize Ghadially played University cricket, has a Masters in Literature and Business Management and is an entrepreneur), a sportsman’s sister (my brother, Mazhar represented Mumbai in the prestigious Ranji trophy, some of his closest friends are because the game introduced him to them and is a successful businessman); I am also a cousin sister (Dr Muffi Lakdawala is one of the world’s leading bariatric surgeons and played club cricket, university cricket and maintains cricket and sports remain a passion area for him till date); some of my closest friends were sportsmen - Rohan Gavaskar (played for Bengal Ranji Trophy and India in ODIs) and finally, I married an Indian cricketer who has represented the country in all three formats of the game, been a part of four World Cups including the inaugural T20 when India lifted the cup for the first time - Ajit Agarkar. But most proud to say that I am also a mother of a little passionate footballer whose passion now lies with Archery, Badminton and Baseball, my son, Raj literally came alive on a football ground in his Primary Years. My son is now 14 going on 40, and from a parent’s perspective I think he has gained a tremendous amount just being on the field. #BleedBlue Well, you might think I bring along my own bias when I ‘bat’ for its increasing importance in the education space and I accept this feedback with open arms. When something you have grown up and continue to experience in your 40’s has a time tested formula and worked, why should one ignore its essence??  Speak to anyone who aspires to be a sportsman, is one or has represented their team or country at the highest possible level, and they will tell you this quickly, it is education in itself!  These are some ‘relevant’ and ‘transferable’ skills that one hones that are now considered to be an integral part of the new eduworld order as we embrace a changing landscape as 22nd century educators. As UN and Harvard Business Review point out - it is not about technical knowledge alone perhaps 15 percent, the rest 85 percent will be skills that children will need to adapt to 2080!  So what are some of these life skills we speak about? These are .... - about developing communication skills (communicating with team mates, sometimes very different from your set of friends and comfort zone means you have to learn to adapt and modify your tone or pace and choice of words would be critical; when you lose a match and have to take the mike? Or in a team meeting contribute to strategies or motivate each other when the match situation gets tricky!)

-  about decision making (you have a split second to make a decision basis of changing circumstances, and I promise you leading high level management professionals will envy the exposure to these skills earlier on) - about team work (ah! The one thing that you look for when interviewing anyone who wants to work for you! - “Are you a team player?” We all want them but do we do enough in schools to hone these skills?)

- about discipline and attitude (I have watched the earlier morning routines and sacrifices made to deliver on expectations for the team and supporters and I must admit, it has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life; missed celebrations, playing through pain and injury for the sake of the team, no weekends off, post injury rehab to name a few) - about dedication and determination (you simply will not win them all, so you have to find ways to motivate yourself to rise above a loss and have the will to come back stronger) - about time management (some of the examples I have shared - all have successful non sporty careers but their love for the game also gives them that character and attitude that helps them in their current professions especially as they balance work and play and it teaches one important time management strategies when you want to pack it all in!)

- about adaptability (you never land up playing in the same ground as you start competing at whatever level - district or state, and that’s when you learn the art of adaptation - new environment and how can one capitalise on its strengths and adapt oneself) -  about being patient, open-minded and embracing changing circumstances and standing up for your own belief’s (wow, won’t these skills work perfectly in today’s world scenario!!) - about personal and professional goal setting and pacing yourself as you approach each milestone from local to district to state or then national and international. Long road ahead as an athlete and journey has to be planned with specific goals Have you noticed, I have not mentioned anything about skill development or fine and gross motor development, body balance, flexibility or physical fitness, mental strength, fitter lifestyle and a lower risk of ailments because those are the more obvious consequences when you play a sport - just by products that are such an advantage!

For me, it is more than just that - if we as educators, can include sport as a curriculum subject and perhaps get the Math teacher to collaborate with the PE and teach angles - they would make a lot of sense in context of the ‘pitch’ or ground - think of on and off side (acute/obtuse angles);

Mental Math works beautifully when you are maintaining scores especially run rates and suddenly the painful percentage and decimal point calculations that no one understands when solving the word problems (because these are text book types and have no relevance in daily lives)  will start to make more sense when the relevance of probability hits them in context of predicting a win or loss looking at past data. Imagine understanding pythagorus’s theorem in relevance to creating infrastructure?? - Ah now it makes sense ..... I could go on but I suppose you get my point?

It is similar for Language development be it English or any other, so much can be built in just looking at the sports pages and using those articles to teach grammar in context or comprehension for that matter, get the kids to write a match report or for that matter introduce them to new vocab? Think of critical review?  Social Sciences - makes complete sense when you contextualise it in terms of the relevance of a country - wind conditions, temperature defer from the northern to southern hemisphere; soil types, culture and the general terrain and environment ... so much can be done when playing sport and travelling or even exposing them with VR to those countries and having discussions around it. You have their attention and interest and then ‘stuff’ translated as concepts for us ad educators, will make more sense.  From Sciences to IT, economics to business studies, it is easy to relate for a child and make that learning come ‘alive’ for them provided we focus on it not just as a game but education itself. Having worked in the education space for close to 20 years, I can safely say that it creates platforms, opportunities and a world of learning for children if we start treating it as edusports. This amalgamation will not only create fitter children, healthier lifestyles, reduced addiction to on-line games and screen time but more well rounded individuals who can then embrace challenges that may arise with the right attitude.  It has been voted as the most likely successful industry of the future, so Sports and its integration with education is now a given.  What are we waiting for? 

__________________________________________________________________________________This article has been written by Fatema Agarkar and all copyrights belong to her. She has recently launched a new venture "Agarkar Centre of Excellence" - go out there and give her some love.

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