I live on BMCC road, an area which has a huge ground overlooking the college. Whenever I pass by or go for an occasional jog in the early mornings or evenings, I see boys playing football or cricket with great dedication. This spot especially exudes an amazing macho energy, very similar to a male den. The adrenaline rush pumping and the group dynamics is a treat to watch, especially when they are playing football or cricket in the rains. They play with such gusto that even the outside world ceases to exist for them and that includes, attractive girls. And what’s fascinating? Men play sports for the sheer fun of it, a quality I absolutely admire.
However, there is something that really irked me. When it comes to outdoor sports, I have never seen too many women on the ground. Even if you compare the ratio between men and women joining outdoor sports, the disparity is disturbing. Women in India and cities especially prefer enclosed areas like gymnasiums, aerobics or even dancing where the male ratio is smaller. They rarely prefer to play out in the open.
If you dig deeper, I think it has lots to do with the mentality of Indian parents where they encourage their sons to play sports. Girls on the other hand are persuaded to take up something indoor like dancing or singing. Even when I was younger and wanted to try my hand at basketball, my parents thought Bharatnatyam, which I was already learning was a far more viable option. And my parents are nowhere close to being the quintessential traditional ones. Imagine! It was only when I got older and enrolled myself into athletics and trekking, did I understand the true benefits of playing outdoor sports. It not only got me fitter, a far cry from my earlier rotund shape but also gave me confidence and a competitive spirit that helps me at work today.
It depresses me a bit to see that I always see fathers playing with their sons, teaching them football or cricket in the same ground. But I have never seen them teaching it to their daughters or even mothers teaching a sport to their sons. That’s why the new Bournvita advertisement talks about how a mother races her son in the woods, instilling the winning streak in him like a breath of fresh air. Another great example that I can think of is the beautiful father and daughter relationship shared in the classic movie, ‘Father of the Bride’. The bond that Steve Martin shares with his onscreen daughter Annie while playing basketball with her is endearing and I wish I could see more of it in this country.
I understand academics are important and women are already proving their mettle topping most of the merit lists. However, I wish more parents ingrain the importance of outdoor sports in their daughters as well. It is important that their perspective towards sports is changed. Sports should not be looked at as only a hobby but as a medium to prepare girls for life’s challenges. Physically, socially and emotionally, it is a great way of empowering women, directing them towards a healthy, active and fit lifestyle. It has several advantages like it improves your motor co-ordination, team spirit and helps strength and character building. It is a great way to tackle obesity and even handle depression, two problems increasing in the modern womankind.
So go ahead and inculcate the habit of indulging in outdoor sports in your daughter. You are training her for a better life, for herself and future generations to come. And girls, instead of confining yourself to closed rooms, get out in the open and have a complete blast playing an outdoor sport you feel close to. After all, why should boys have all the fun?