It's sports time at schools

To create a sports friendly society, the seeds have to be sown at the schools. The State has identified steps to popularise sports at schools.

Draw up a list of Government schools in the State that have the best of sports facilities and you will come across only a handful . But absence of facilities has never deterred schools from producing talented sportspersons.

Realising this, the State Government has come forward to strengthen the sports infrastructure at both the high and higher secondary schools. It has sanctioned Rs 50 lakhs for this and about 50 schools will be benefited by this scheme.

Following this, the Chennai wing of the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) has instructed Regional Senior Managers, Regional Inspectors of Physical Education and the District Sports Officers to recommend sports-inclined schools under their jurisdiction.

The Coimbatore wing of the SDAT has already identified 12 schools, based on their performances in sports and the limited facilities they had. The first mission of the SDAT will be to lay an athletic track (200m/400m) or a standard court depending on what's popular at the school .

Besides improving playfields, the SDAT also plans to work on the syllabus content and competitions, and updating the knowledge of Physical Education teachers. Steps will also be taken to address the problem of funds. A direct co-ordination between the education department, physical education faculty and the SDAT will be developed.

The SDAT has been introducing new sports disciplines every year. This academic year, the disciplines finding their way into inter school competitions will be beach volleyball, chess, judo and road cycling.

Chess and cycling will be played at the zonal level, beach volleyball at the district and divisional level and judo at the State level.

The SDAT is also keen on putting into action a new strategy for the development of sports and games in the State. The strategy will be to have level one to five programmes, which include strengthening infrastructure, competitions, talent identification and development programmes, coaching camps and sponsorships. The SDAT Member Secretary, P.W.C. Davidar pointed out that the level one and two programmes would be successful only if schools are involved.

The SDAT also reviewed in detail the World Beaters Talent Spotting Scheme conducted last year. It was found that the battery of tests was conducted successfully in over 8500 schools across the State. Coimbatore and Tirunelveli topped the list with over 90 per cent of the schools completing its task. In the educational district competitions conducted in about nine locations, 7680 students participated out of which SDAT had identified 3240. Further, in the five-day non-residential camp conducted in 64 locations, 9600 students had participated.

Besides the non-residential camp, a 15-day residential camp was also held in 30 locations in which 2940 students took part. The best performers were given the chance to attend the selection trials for the specialised academies operating in different districts.

This year the SDAT expects a much better response from schools for the scheme. The State government had already declared the following period for the batteries of test to be conducted in schools. The first term that started on July 5 will go on till July 15 followed by the second (November 5 to 15) and third (February 5 to 15, 2006) terms. It's going to be tough work in the office for the SDAT in the months to come but it is confident of doing a good job.


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