Roller skating is fast becoming a popular activity among young schoolgoers

It is past 3 p.m. on a weekend and the temperature is a blistering 40-plus degrees Celsius.

But that hardly deters young girls and boys from assembling at the skating rink at Anna Nagar Visveswaraiah Tower Park in Anna Nagar, one of the biggest and finest parks in the city.

The children, most of them under 10 years, put on their roller skates, helmets, knee caps and other protective gear and start practising, going multiple times around the 45-metre laps, egged on by their parents.

They tumble, get bruised, run to their parents with tears rolling down their cheeks, but come back to the rink within minutes.

Roller skating is a rage with many school-going children today. The Chennai Corporation has skating rinks at 7 places in the city, in addition to the State government’s full-fledged rink with a lap of 200 metres at the Nehru indoor stadium.

In addition, there are many others run by private players in the city suburbs too. Modest estimates put the number of serious skating enthusiasts at nothing less than 3,000.

Young skaters below 18 years have won top honours at many national events — a proof of how seriously they take the sport. The skating rinks at Besant Nagar and Marina have increased interest among children.

“When we began 15 years ago, there were just 10 boys and girls, but now, there are more than 300. We have classes for four hours for beginners, experts and professional skaters,” says K.P. Unnikrishnan, chief coach at Anna Nagar.

Some of the important benefits of roller skating include improved posture, agility, concentration and better appetite. “More importantly,” says Vinayagam, assistant to Mr. Unnikrishnan, “it facilitates improvement in children who are slow learners, and brings about drastic changes in the attitude of children.”

Vouching for this is K. Jayasudha, mother of five-year-old Mukesh Raghavendar. “There has been vast improvement in his attitude and overall well-being,” she says.

S. Sundar, a coach in the city suburbs, says young skaters’ stamina improves, and uniformly, all of them excel in academics too due to their increased focus.

“If we can get good open spaces with world-class surfaces in the city, we can look forward to providing more coaching for outdoor practice and compete at the world level,” he says.

More In: Society | Chennai