Nurture your child's sporting talent - Hindustan Times

Nurture your child's sporting talent

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Sep 22, 2011 11:56 AM IST

If you have the ability to spot and nurture sporting talent in a kid, you will be the most sought-after school sports instructor says Ayesha Banerjee.

Think motivation and think Kabir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) in the movie Chak de India.

Still smarting from the wounds from a debacle seven years ago which had brought him disgrace and India a loss against Pakistan, Mr Motivation (Khan) scolds, applauds and mothers his indisciplined motley crew of hockey players to come together and give everything to winning a championship.

Motivation counts of course — but for a sports instructor or physical education (PE) teacher at a school, monitoring fitness levels of students and spotting talent are equally important. “They must be good motivators and instructors for all age levels; as well as learners,” says MK Gulia, head of faculty (sports and activities), Lawrence School, Sanawar. “One has to be regularly updated on the latest techniques in sports. A positive mindset, willingness to experiment, is very helpful for coaching. An instructor must also have the ability to diagnose and rectify the problems of the students or players. Have faith in your wards and in yourself. Good education and communication skills add colours to this result-oriented profession,” he adds.

It also helps if the instructors have competed at national and international sports events.

Ajay Mark, head of the physical education/sports team at Mussoorie’s Woodstock School, did his elementary schooling from Woodstock itself and then moved to the Wynberg Allen School where he excelled in sports. “I have a trunk full of certificates, medals and cups to testify,” he exclaims. He was the best all-round sportsperson, fastest man in Mussoorie, division champion and inter school swimming champion. He has also roller skated from Mussoorie to Amritsar in ten days, breaking the previous Indian record from Mussoorie to Delhi.

Gulia has participated in the Subroto Cup, the national school games, youth championships (both north zone and all-India), the all-India inter universities championships and national championships.

Both Woodstock and Sanawar have excellent sporting facilities. The jewel in Woodstock’s crown is the Win Mumby – a very well-equipped and world class gym, with basketball, squash, indoor soccer, volleyball and badminton courts. It also has a room with ‘climbing walls’, a gymnastics room, table tennis facilities and a fitness room fitted with the latest equipment. The school has tennis courts, an excellent brand new outdoor swimming pool and a field for track and field events, hockey, soccer, and cricket. “We also ensure that every student residence also has a court for multiple sports,” says Mark.

Sanawar has six sports fields for athletics, cricket, hockey and soccer, an outdoor shooting range for rifle shooting events, two synthetic courts each for basketball and tennis. For indoor sports there is a 12-station range for pistol and rifle shooting, one solar heated (25 m) swimming pool, indoor badminton and TT hall with four wooden courts; squash courts, two gymnastic arenas, and a boxing ring.

On the importance of sports in his life, Mark says his family laughs at the amount of time he spends while shaving every morning “but it is a valuable start to my day because that is when I meditate and set the tone for the day.” A school day for him begins with an advisory group meeting and PE classes across the school. He also takes care of the sports programme, including sorting out staff issues, working on PE sessions, education programme, inter-house and inter-school sports; etc.
American PE instructor Lauren Terry, who has joined Woodstock this summer, believes “physical education provides a great environment to teach teamwork, problem-solving, self-motivation and other skills through movement.”

Her colleague, Steve Luukkonen, a University of Minnesota graduate with a degree in physical education, says he has “struck gold. I absolutely love it here.

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The completion of the Win Mumby gym and our amazing pool has made it even better. This is my first job and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect and active position.”

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What's it about?
Sports instructors play a very important role in schools. They have to ensure that each child in their care remains fit/reaches required levels of fitness.

They also have to be on the constant lookout for sporting talent and nurture it, ensuring that the student is given ample opportunities to participate in national and international school-level competitions. A lot is packed into the sporting instructors’ schedules. From supervising physical training lessons, to taking physical education classes, they have to pay individual attention to athletes, ensure that all sporting equipment of the school is in order, accompany school teams to other sporting events, ensure they perform well and also organise contests/matches in the school

Clock Work
7 am: Supervise children taking half-an-hour of physical exercise every morning (except Sundays)
9 am: School assembly and mass PT
10 am onwards: Supervise games classes
1.30 am: Lunch
3 pm onwards: Coach individuals handpicked for an all-school games meet
5 pm: Discuss students’ selections with the principal
6 pm: Supervise evening games of boarders
7 pm: Spend time in gym Exercise and check equipment
8 pm: Check complaint about school’s cricket pitch developing cracks
9 pm: Dinner
10 pm: Retire to room, watch TV, catch up on the sports news and other events of the day

The Payoff
A sports instructor at a top public school could be paid anything between Rs4 lakh to Rs6.5 lakh per annum. This apart, he or she could be entitled to education for his or her children, free housing, health- care, subsidised meals, electricity, gas etc. There are also paid holidays for all throughout their school career

. Aware of training for/rules of various sporting disciplines
. Good sporting and training skills, patience to deal with the slow learners
. Good motivator, should have the ability to develop the competitive spirit in students

How do i get there?
Taking up science with a special focus on biology at the school level and on physiology at graduation level will help as you have to understand and be aware of the impact of physical training on the human body. It is important that you also understand how much of a stretch your students can handle — you have to completely minimise sports-related injuries. You should be aware of sports medicine, exercise physiology, biochemistry, physiotherapy, sports anthropometry (body measurements), bio-mechanics, kinesiology (study — related to physiology — of the mechanics and anatomy in relation to human movement) and all kinds of training methods. To join a top school as a sports instructor you must have a professional diploma/degree in sports coaching and should have participated at national or international levels in your game of specialisation

Institutes & urls
. Indira Gandhi Institute of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, New Delhi,
. Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala,
. Lakshmibai National College of Physical Education, Kerala,
. Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education, Gwalior,

Pros & cons


Great satisfaction in training young people to excel in sports and seeing them develop into fit and confident individuals. If your wards grow up to excel in a certain discipline then some of their fame and glory rubs off on you too


Can be a stressful job as school’s performance in sporting events depends on your training skills alone

Sports help kids mature

That is why schools stress on physical activities for a child’s overall development

What is your school’s policy on sports?
Sanawar understands that the importance of sports and physical activities in the life of a young student is invaluable. Sports keep kids off the streets and screens (TV, computer and electro-gadgets). These also teach lessons (teamwork, leadership) that play a pivotal role in the makeup of a young athlete, especially in the middle school to high school years where student athletes are much more mature and mentally developed. How else can a young, impressionable person learn values like discipline, responsibility, self-confidence, sacrifice and accountability?

What are the changes you notice/strive to bring about in your children during the school years?
Sometimes a child will be hyper, lacking in confidence, a master of games on screens (video games) and not the fields, fond of junk foods, indisciplined.

But gradually he or she transforms into a fitness freak, mentally and physically strong with good eating habits, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, confident and disciplined, responsible and well-mannered and focused. And all this is a gradual process, given the strong sporting culture at Sanawar.

Is a sports instructor treated at par with other teachers?
Yes. In Sanawar, sports coaches/instructors are treated at par with other teachers in all aspects, ie socially and economically. All boarding schools of repute are centrally and practically based on the overall development of a child. So, sports and other physical activities are key factors for them. I would says sports staff are more important than others.

What qualifications do they require?
Sports coaches/instructors must have a professional diploma/degree and should have participated at national or international levels in his/her game of specialisation. In India, the Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports, Patiala, produces coaches for all kinds of sporting disciplines. Coaching courses from foreign recognised professional institutes and sports associations and federations are also very helpful for better coaching.

MK Gulia, HOF (sports and activities), Lawrence School, Sanawar Interviewed by Ayesha Banerjee

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    Ayesha Banerjee is responsible for Hindustan Times’ weekly supplements, including HT Estates, HT Education and HT ShineJobs.

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