I recall when I was a young girl back in Canada, I was sitting and watching a baseball game on TV with my father and we started to debate the importance of sports. As a young man, my father played semi-professional baseball and as an adult, spent much time supporting all levels of sports as a spectator. We debated what the world would be like without sports. He suggested that it is a wonderful hobby as both a player and fan, but it was just a hobby; it wasn’t a necessity. I responded with all the overconfidence of a teenager that sports is more than just a hobby and went as far as exclaiming that “There would be more wars if we didn’t have sports!”
As an adult, my teenage tendencies of exaggeration may have dissipated but I still firmly believe that sports is more than just a hobby for both participants and spectators. The challenging times we are all living through right now with coronavirus is testament to this. The effect of cancelling all sports from professional leagues right down to amateur budding athletic programs, can be felt by millions of people world wide. To many the social emotional impact is stronger than the physical. The loss of the sense of community, of belonging, and of an extended family is real for many girls, boys, men and women everywhere. Others are feeling physical challenges as well as they are struggling to stay active during these times.
But, the human race is incredible and adaptable in tough situations, and sports once again is playing a role. Sports teams are staying in touch online and are a source of much needed support, love and laughter in these times. So many professional athletes are playing vital roles through this crises by sharing their messages of support and at times, making valuable monetary donations to the cause. Even in areas of isolation, people are coming out on their balconies and leading their neighbours through a workout program to help them stay active. Others are turning to online work out programs to follow. Once again, sports is finding its way.
Coronavirus and Sports for Development Projects
The Nanhi Kali Sports program for girls in India has been put on hold along with all the other education programs for over 200 000 girls. Similar to most places in the world, independent physical activity initiatives are the only option for these girls. The challenge here is that many of these girls are just beginning their sports journey and their understanding of physical activity is just in their infancy. These girls may not yet have the ability to lead their own independent balanced physical and health development nor do they have the time to do so during these challenging times.
Therefore, as we continue to build this program for girls, it will be valuable to teach them how to be both team players but also independent learners and athletes. So, in challenging times such as now, these girls will be empowered to continue their sports journey and stay strong and healthy.