Sports as an alternate profession - Encouraging children to opt for it, and knowing about associated healthcare needs

Here’s a sports quiz for you: Name the Indian sportsman who took up cricket at the age of eleven, made his International Test debut at the age of sixteen and scored his first hundred when he was seventeen years old. If you answered “Sachin Tendulkar”, you got it right!

Sachin Tendulkar, or “The Little Master”, as he is fondly known, was passionate about cricket at a very young age. As a 14-year-old student of Sharadashram Vidyamandir International School (Dadar, Mumbai), he scored 326 runs (not out) out of the famous total score of 664 runs along with classmate Vinod Kambli – a world record in 1988 – against St Xavier’s School (Fort).

A year later Sachin scored a century in his first-class debut for Mumbai, and at 16 years he became India’s youngest (International) Test cricketer.  At 23, Tendulkar was made captain of his country’s team. Each time he would walk to the pavilion in any cricket match, the stadium would reverberate with the crowd chanting, “Sachin, Sachin!”! Sachin Tendulkar’s inspirational story shows how far children can take their interest in sports with encouragement from their parents and timely honing of their skills.

Not all children are only academically inclined. If the world was filled only with doctors, engineers, computer programmers and lawyers, it would be such a boring place! While traditionally these are aspirational career choices, today’s parents have realized that there is indeed a world of opportunities for our little stars who dream of shining bright in the field of sports.

The typical assumption is that practicing a sport involves a lot of time and energy, and so it may distract student-athletes from academics. However, there are a lot of benefits to playing sports. Participating in athletics helps to improve the cognitive and memory functions of the brain, helping kids perform better in tests and academics. Further, traits such as discipline and perseverance also play an important part in better academic performance. Also, the determination and goal-setting skills a sport requires can be transferred to the classroom. Not to mention that physical fitness and a balanced diet help keep the child’s body active and well, and we all know that “a healthy body leads to a healthy mind”.

Children who are good at sports have a plethora of opportunities in front of them. There are many different specializations that are emerging in the sports industry. Some corporate groups and renowned sports personalities have taken steps in promoting sports. Professions such as sports journalism, sports marketing, sports equipment manufacturing and medical consulting all overlap sports with other industries. There are so many sports schools and coaching centers in India that provide guidance towards achieving excellence in games and athletics. Some of these are even governed by the state and central government.

An important consideration is taking care of your child’s health needs, as they are prone to injuries during practice such as broken bones, sprains and body injuries. Make sure the kids wear protective gear while playing and immediately consult with the school nurse and pediatrician for serious injuries. Try not to fret too much about minor cuts and bruises; that is part and parcel of the game! Instead, focus on preventive measures and handle treatment according to the severity of injury. For extreme injuries (Heaven forbid!) there are sports trauma centers that offer excellent care and services towards non-surgical, surgical and rehabilitation programs to help the children manage their conditions. One way of ensuring your child’s health is looked after is getting health insurance for them.

Planning for sports and play, along with academics, would be the ideal combination. For kids who perform exceptionally well in a sport, parents should support them in order to turn their talent into their passion and career. Let our young stars shine bright in their field of choice!

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