Today sport emerges as a multi- billion dollar industry throughout the world which attracts millions of people either to participate or to witness sports. The application of modern managerial tools and techniques introduces a change in the pattern of production, consumption and management of sporting events, sportspersons and sports organizations. The commercial aspects become more and more relevant for making sporting activities feasible and viable. However, there are other aspects of sports which we often tend to ignore. The objective of this article is to analyze the use of sports as a vehicle to spread awareness among the children and youth of the under-served communities of the world.
“Sports can play a role of improving the lives of whole community
Former Secretary General
The concept of spreading awareness through sports has effectively been implemented by a ‘youth serving organization’ in Kenya. The organization has introduced a football League by applying ‘Pay it Back Approach’. Almost 20,000 participants participate in the League and in return of the sporting facilities provided by the organization, the participants have to participate in various social awareness and health- related programmes, such as planting trees, cleaning water, neighbourhood cleaning, attending classes on HIV awareness, drug awareness, malaria prevention etc. Scholarships are awarded for excellent performance in music, drama, dance and photography. The older kids, who have been associated with this project since the beginning, become the role-models of these slum communities and play a pivotal role in achieving social, intellectual and physical well- being of these communities.
There are number of benefits of this project. It helps the children and youth of the under- served communities to understand the importance of coordination, cooperation, discipline and social cohesion. It helps them to lead a healthy life by making them aware of health related issues. It explores the possibilities of future employment in sports or in other areas. It also generates employment in the forms of instructors and coordinators who play an instrumental role in executing the project.
In another example, sport is used directly to spread awareness. In this case, a kid is asked to run with a ball to a box in which the images of health related issues are kept. The kid is then asked to pick up an image and explain. If the kid fails to explain, he/ she has to return to the starting point and pass the ball to the other kid who has to perform the task then. This task not only makes the kids aware of healthy life, but also makes them understand the importance of cooperation.
From these examples, it is evident that sports can be used as a medium to spread awareness among the children and youth of the under- privileged communities, specially in a country like India where 37% of the population falls below the poverty line and more than 8 million children are still out of school. These sports centric activities not only create social awareness, but also enhance the possibilities of future employment through skill development. The effective implementation of ‘Education through Sports’ programme may play a pivotal role in producing good citizens who can serve the country in the best possible ways in every opportunity.
The author is a sports enthusiast, currently working as a Lecturer of the Department of Sports Management of Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Kolkata. He joined the sports industry as a Research Executive of Comperio Research, market research arm of IMG. All India Football Federation (AIFF), the apex body of football in India, was his next organization where he joined as the Event Coordinator of the I- League. After AIFF, he joined New World Consulting as the Assistant Manager of the Department of Research and Consultancy. His passion for sports motivated him to do a Post Graduate Course in Sports Management. Prior to that, he completed M.A. in Economics.