Covid-19 changed our lives in unimaginable ways, be it the way we greet each other, or travel, or eat, or even play. In fact, outdoor sports and games came to a standstill, and one of the most affected by it were the children. The days and months they would otherwise had spent in the dusty streets or on muddy fields, passed away within the confines of their houses. And, with outdoor activities dwindling, children started looking inwards.
Online gaming grew by leaps and bounds and spending hours in front of screen – mobile, tablet PCs or TVs - became the norm, as parents, too, became helpless. Even the classes were held online. The habits picked up during this period spilt over to the post-pandemic months and years.
So, where does this leave our children?
“The best way for any child to grow up is by physically indulging themselves in activities like sports, and steering clear of sedentary activities,” says Muneer, an archery coach in Kerala.
Dr Nanaki J. Chadha, a Chartered Sport and Performance Psychologist under the British Psychological Society (BPS), agrees. “Engaging in any kind of physical activity results in the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters and helps to reduce stress and anxiety.”
Chadha says that sports can add an element of fun in a child’s life and help them deal better with their stress and anxiety.
Sports also has the potential to provide a framework for learning values, thereby aiding in the development of a child’s personality, she says.
Dr Vipin Roldant, a sports psychologist in Kerala, says that sports can help with physical, muscular, and mental development, as well as hormonal balance in the body. It also acts as a form of communication between others and, at times, between ourselves. Roldant identifies sports as “an excellent expression of emotions".
Hockey player Sarange Mohan, 23, says the game allowed him to achieve focus in life and to think practically and rationally. Meanwhile, basketball player Sheethal feels the game has allowed her to be independent in life.
Also, sports have rules and regulations that one has to follow, which helps a child develop a sense of discipline. Though individual games and sports have their positive aspects - like how the game of chess can help in the cognitive and intellectual development of a child - playing a team or a group sport helps in the personality development of the child.
“Friendships are an essential part of a child’s development, and sports helps build connections,” says Chadha.
She also emphasises on the importance of sports in schools and colleges, and the need to have the necessary infrastructure in place.