On National Sports day lets focus on the team behind the making of an athlete

India celebrates the National Sports Day today to mark the birthday of legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand. He was a master with a hockey stick and hope the women’s team pay him the tribute today by defeating China to enter the finals in Asian Games. But lets for today shift our attention from the players to the person who builds an athlete for a while.

We need to change our view on looking at sports as just a sport

What we see on television is the end result of a strong and collective effort of support staff members to guide an athlete in making the correct decisions. Universally admired masterpiece Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan but those thousands of workers who worked for 20 years to take care of every minute details are never given the credit. That is what happens with us. We do not admire the people we don’t get to see often.

In the latest monsoon session of Parliament Lok Sabha passed a bill to establish a National Sports University in Manipur (first in India). This is certainly a step forward but along with that, we need to look at sports in a positive way.

In the ongoing 18th Asian Games held in Indonesia, India has won 50 medals till the 10th day. While China is way ahead with 206 medals in total. Yes, their economy is way better than us but I am not here to moot over that topic. India has some of the best quality athletes but whenever you see a Chinese athlete you could feel the discipline they possess. China’s sports establishment is conceived as a tool for nation building. They have some severe training right from the age of six which is harsh and advocating for forcing kids to become athletes is not the right suggestion. But instead of just arguing to ban their products, we must learn good things from them.

Games are played on and off the field. A player winning a medal has an equal effort of every single person who looks behind them. They might not be good enough to win medals but can help crafting an athlete to do wonders. Their persistence, efforts requires to be known which is beyond the sports.

How is an athlete made

A 23-year-old Tajinderpal Singh Toor won a gold medal in shot put for India. He hurled the iron ball at a record-breaking distance of 20.75m. His coach MS Dhillon was not satisfied with his first four throws which were below 20m mark even though Singh had ensured a gold. From the sidelines, Dhillon shouted “You die of shame,” to make him furious and go beyond his limit. Singh’s father is fighting cancer and Singh was reluctant to come to Jakarta. But Dhillon persuaded him with the kind of experience Singh had. Coach knows perfectly what does an athlete needs during the time when it matters the most.

Athletics - 2018 Asian Games
Tajinderpal Singh Toor

The base of any athlete can be made strong right from his school. An athlete is not born but made. We need to have good Physical Education (PE) teachers who can guide kids to make healthy choices and they have to be their role model. A PE teacher may not be a successful athlete himself but disciplined towards staying fit.

They need to be good observers. Recognising which student needs more encouragement is a must trait. In the era where kids prefer playing games on gadgets, PE teachers need to be creative. Finding inspiration from YouTube videos, television and other stuff makes kids engaging with the game.

Profession behind the scenes

Technology has benefited players to improve their skills by tracking their performances. Every minute details about a player can be measured. For every athlete, there is the network of support staff which includes coaches, nutritionist, scientist and medical professions. Also the statisticians, mathematicians, analyser are essentials to push athletes beyond their limits. This collective desire of coach and staff for an athlete to win multiplies the athlete’s will.

Schools and colleges need to understand this and bring such courses where parents feel that it is a serious profession. Maybe in the upcoming years, India can get more athletes from every corner of the country. Also giving them the respect and financial aid is equally important.

Let’s make ourselves disciplined today for the better tomorrow.