Everything looked out of place when as many as 10 of the dozen rural youngsters competing in one of the heats of the 800 metres run literally struggled to reach the finishing line during the Panchayat Yuva Kreeda aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) district level tournament at the Indira Priyadarshini stadium here on Thursday.
“Sports teachers no longer toil at grooming talent in the schools,” says K. Parthasarathy, a Physical Director at Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Utnoor, as he tries to explain the main reason for the poor ‘stamina’ of the youths.
“Why would a teacher risk his peace of mind over injuries sustained by students during play. In the changing scenario in terms of well being of students, it is the Physical Education Teachers (PET) who are being held responsible for their injuries,” Mr. Parthasarathy adds.
The physical activity of inmates of Tribal Welfare and Social Welfare hostels scattered all over the district includes a visit to the play ground as early as 5 a.m.
Since the last few years, the number of students indulging in physical exercises is on the decline as teachers desist from forcing them to come to the grounds.
“I bring to the ground only the ‘willing’ students. Many of those who do not care to answer my whistle at 4.45 a.m. can be found loitering on the roads in the early hours,” points out a PET at a Tribal Ashram school in Adilabad town.
Neither the ITDA nor the Social Welfare Department keeps a track of sports activity in its institutions.
However, PETs and others swear there is a general decline in the level of physical fitness among youth of late.
There are other aspects associated with sports in schools in this backward district which are causing a negative impact on promotion of physical activity among rural children.
Lack of sports material
For example, the Tribal Welfare Department has not issued any sports materials since the last three years to the nearly 150 residential schools and junior colleges which have about 35,000 students on the rolls.