Team games don’t just promote physical well-being. They equip children with skills to face the challenges of life

Besides physical, physiological and cognitive development, team games teach children lessons that will help them succeed in their personal and professional lives.

Life after school? Today, for most kids, it revolves around a TV show, gadget, tuition or a hobby. Parents don’t realise that by not playing team games regularly, children are missing out on valuable lessons for life. This might be why problems such as mal-adjustment, bullying, adolescent rebellion, depression and the like are becoming more common among our children.

While pursuing a sport helps children develop emotional strength to take victory and defeat in their stride, team games teach them other lessons such as tolerance and team spirit. Human beings are social animals. Be it an organisation or a family set-up, only team work can sustain it. But today, we are letting children grow up in isolation. “When they are denied the chance to play team games, not only is their all-round development hindered, but also their learning ability and memory. That is because, by constantly focussing on a gadget or a book, the brain gets tired,” says Dr. V. Jayanthini, child psychiatrist.

Lack of interaction

Today, children and adolescents have very little opportunity for interaction in unstructured environments, which would have helped them develop social skills. “Kids today also tend to think only in terms of ‘I’ and not ‘we’. Team games let them experience the feeling of playing and winning for ‘my club’ or ‘my school’, rather than just for ‘myself’. Team games help children empathise. For instance, when one player is injured, the entire team is concerned about his recovery,” says consultant paediatrician and adolescent physician Dr. S. Yamuna.

True, there are constraints of time and space. “But, if parents come together and request school authorities to let children play on the premises after school hours, it could be a solution. Likewise, parents in a residential locality could request the local councillor to allot space for children to play; sports organisations can come forward and sponsor such initiatives,” points out Dr. Jayanthini.

Of course, parents need to stay tuned to their child’s feelings and help him/her handle issues that may crop up during team games. The coach has to handle the kids sensitively too. “If a child lags behind compared to others in a group, he may lose confidence, withdraw into a shell and feel isolated. So the coach has to group kids according to skill sets, so that no kid is left behind, when the team is chosen,” suggests Arindam Biswas, football coach, Mahogany Football Club. But failing to provide kids with a regular dose of outdoor team games can prove costly. Team games are not just fun, but a necessity for all kids.