Starting a Sports Department

by Sahadev Komaragiri

A school bursts into new energy levels during the 10 or 15 minute break that the children get after every two hours of study. The kids rush to the ground and organize themselves quickly to play a game of their choice. The decibel level goes up suddenly and there is a feverish enthusiasm to make best use of that short break. Kabaddi, seven stones, cricket, chasing each other are some of the popular games they engage themselves in. You can hear them tell each other not to waste precious time which automatically means that their disputes are resolved in a matter of few seconds. When that break is over, kids spend as much extra time as possible and will not return until they are herded back to their classrooms by their teachers.

This article is part of the series on Making a Difference

Apart from this small break, many schools do not allow even an hour a week for the kids to play in some organized manner. No effort is made to develop good cricket, kabaddi, kho or volley ball teams. It is too sad that schools are allowed to come up in areas where there is no provision for even a small piece of land that can be reserved for sports and games.

I wanted to start a sports department for our school and I did not know where to start. So, I just joined the kids and started playing with them. I watched kids play cricket and identified a few gifted kids who can swing their bat with an elegant force and precision and a few others who can swing their arms to deliver a fast ball. I collected them all and started a few practice sessions after the school hours and on Sundays. While playing with them I was able to quickly recall cricket coaching sessions that I attended when I was in school. I was able to train them on catching practices, running between the wickets, fielding practices and throwing the ball straight to the wicket keeper and a few other things. I learnt to remind them to not take their eyes off the ball, pick up the ball while running after it and throw it back to the keeper as quickly as possible, always take the first run as fast as they can and aim for the second one. Very soon we had one cricket team ready for our school. Later I worked on creating a second team.

I ventured to buy some equipment when I gained enough confidence that I can engage the kids on a regular basis. I bought some shuttle badminton racquets and shuttles, some chess boards, and a bunch of hard tennis balls for our cricket practice. I engaged a cricket bat that I had for many years and bought an additional one. The school already had one bat that was left in the sports room untouched for many months. Girls were given a chance to play shuttle badminton in turns while the boys were engaged in playing cricket and kabaddi. The most difficult thing to do was to say no to a few kids who desperately wanted to play games that they are not fully ready to play. I had to find ways to keep them busy in other games that they did not like to play. They sulked and I did not know how to pacify them!

With some hard bargaining and convincing I was able to set up a sports hour for each of the classes. This is supposed to be a once in a week activity. I secured the last hour of the day so as to facilitate extra time after school. Since there was no physical education trainer in the school, I played that role myself and requested the help of some teachers to work with the kids from lower classes while I engaged the older kids. The teachers, most of them, were happy to help. For younger ones they conducted some easy to play games such as musical chairs or round robin. For older ones I made it mandatory for all the children to do some stretching exercises and one round of running around the ground. The younger girls and boys were all enthused about the stretching and running exercises and playing kho, but older girls from 7th and upper grades preferred to play with skipping ropes, Tennikoit rings, shuttle badminton items and some Frisbees. Older boys played their games too intensely and I sometimes wondered if they are missing out on having fun.

Events like Independence Day, Children’s Day and Republic Day provided me with an opportunity to get the games a little better organized. With help from teachers we conducted several games for all the houses introducing rules and even awarding points for the wins. I was able to train and create a good set of chess players and allowed them to play among themselves and with me on regular basis.

When mid and high school girls approached me with a request to have a cricket game conducted for them, I was just too happy to arrange for one. I asked them to form teams and get back to me with the list. They did that in a matter of a few minutes. They called their teams Jhansi Laxmi Bai and Rudramadevi. The matched started with a lot of excitement. It was a condensed version of a cricket match but they enjoyed it thoroughly. The losing team had sad faces and some of them failed in battling their tears. I successfully battled my own tears of joy on being able to have them all play a game for the first time which was watched by all other students and some teachers amidst claps and cheering. That was a moment that is more than worth giving up my cubicle job for!!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rafi Dudekula July 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Great post! The idea of play and fun as a way to unleash creativity and foster innovation is not well appreciated in India. A TEDx talk I watched recently provides some insight into how all work no play leads even countries like Bulgaria down the slippery slopes of hopelessness (

Looking forward to more blog posts on your experiments with developing kids.


Sahadev Komaragiri July 18, 2013 at 1:55 am

Rafi, Thanks for sharing.


gomathi October 13, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Very inspiring and enjoyable read; Hoping to read much more interesting ones in the future.


gomathi October 14, 2014 at 1:26 am

Very inspiring indeed and also it directs to start one in schools


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