NEW DELHI: “Indian authorities are the enemies of play fields. They have the horrible idea of cementing the space even within a park, which can ruin our knees. There is no childhood in India, for there are no play areas for most of the children”, thundered M.S. Gill, the Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, while launching the National Playing Fields Association of India (NPFAI) here on Friday.
Three eminent sportspersons, P.T. Usha, Cdr. Nandy Singh and Indu Puri were present to extend their hearty support to the idea, which aims “to protect, preserve, promote, develop and improve playing fields and open spaces and other facilities for sports and games, apart from evolving a national policy on playing fields, parks and open spaces.”
The minister stated that the play grounds around the country were vanishing fast as they were being given away “improperly”, leading to a situation in which only 50 million of the 700 million children in schools have playing facilities.
It was mentioned that the Ministry had looked at various models and found the National Playing Fields Association of United Kingdom, which was established in 1925 through a Royal Charter, as quite appropriate to emulate.
“We have contacted them and got the articles etc. We have put our thoughts also.
We have got eminent sportspersons and a legal expert in F.S. Nariman, to take this national forum forward,” said the minister, even as he emphasised that the constitution of the country gave sufficient powers to make such ideas successful with the support of the people and the media.
Commending the idea, Usha said that the children in school would benefit considerably, leading to a healthy and sporty society.
Cdr. Nandy Singh said that he was lucky like most of the people of his era as they had plenty of play grounds even in small villages, sowing the seeds of excellence in sports.
“Even the parks these days are just nice to see. They don’t let children play in them. When you have restriction for children to play, you can’t aspire to get gold medals. All sportsmen should come together to make this a success,” said Nandy Singh. Congratulating the minister on the novel idea, Indu Puri said that only quantity could lead to quality and it was very important to give a chance for the children to play.
“It is a fundamental right of a child to play. In these days of TV and computer culture, it is all the more reason that we give our children the space to play. Our children need an outlet for their energy,” Indu Puri said.