Sandeep Shankar is an 18 year old, 3 time national level gold medalist from Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. When Bridges of Sports Foundation first meet him, he was a part time karate instructor earning less than Rs.5,000 a month. His parents are labourers in Chikmagalur and are unable to support his dreams of excelling in sports. With a very weak financial background, he was not sure about his future career pathway both in terms of an athlete or as a prospective coach.
On a normal day, he trains himself for 4 hours in karate and also takes time out to teach other children karate, making sure that every child at least gets a chance to learn karate. Though he has won National gold medals, he misses out on most tournaments because of no financial support. As a coach he is not sure, what path he can take and if he will be able to develop the skills required to have a sustained career.
In India we have an annual shortage of 40,000 physical education teachers and over 30,000 coaches. In addition to that, the demand for support personnel (trainers, psychologists, medicine experts, nutritionists) would be around 80,000 for each in 2022. The PYKKA scheme by MYAS (Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports) was initiated to build capability of community coaches, aiming to produce 20,000 of them every year. However, since inception in 2008 – the scheme has been able to produce only about 28,500 community coaches according to 2014 CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) report on “Business of Sports in India”.
The National Skill Development Corporation has noted “The key issues relate to coaches not being able to get the right training starting from early years, no continuing education or exposure to leading practices in coaching worldwide and limited upskilling opportunities. At State level, it has also been felt that coaches have no set targets for their career progression and are unclear on the journey through which they need to take their students to success.” (Reference: )
At Bridges of Sports and we execute our skills program over a period of 2 years. We recruit local athletes and PE teachers to be on a 2 year fellowship during which they are deployed as coaches in local schools and given specific skill development program every 3 months.
Sandeep is one of the first fellows of Bridges of Sports Foundation. He was given sport specific training to work with children at grassroots for the age group of 8 – 14 years. Sports Authority of India currently trains just 0.0035% of India’s youth, there is huge need of coaches at grassroots and that is the mission which Bridges of Sports Foundation has embarked on, with people like Sandeep.
Today, he not only teaches children karate but also teaches blind football and athletics to the visually impaired kids at Asha Kiran school for Blind in Chikmagalur working with more than 60 children. He along with other fellows were part of the first skill development workshop conducted at CoWrks, Bangalore. The fellows were given a broader understanding on the use of social media, life skills training, the role technology will play in both the development of coaches and their students, the importance of a systems approach and curriculum building and the possible pathways their career can take post the fellowship at Bridges of Sports Foundation.
One of the physical education teacher from Mundgod spoke at the end of the workshop reiterating that “ I have been a physical education teacher for 25 years and no one has ever treated us this way and supported and respected our profession in this manner “. The important aspect under Bridges of Sports is that, continued education is provided over the period of 2 years and further access to new content is provided them on long term. Over the next 2 years, Sandeep and others will be specifically trained to specialise in at least one of the areas pertaining to holistic sports development.
With the skill development initiative of Bridges of Sports Foundation, Sandeep is now not only able to supplement his livelihood through coaching – but also it has given a new ray of hope for his own Karate career. With increased livelihood, he is now able to participate in more tournaments across India. Given a better understanding of social and digital media, he is now using these mediums to search for more opportunities and sponsorships to support his career. Also, he supports Bridges of Sports by searching online and updating us with all the tournaments happening around India on various sports.
While these might seem basic skills for anyone living and growing up with access to learning, technology and skills from their childhood. These are completely new and unique learning experiences for people like Sandeep and we as a nation would fail if we do not provide access to skill development for the future youth of India.
Over the next 12 months, Bridges of Sports will run a pilot project to fine tune the content for skill development of coaches covering varied areas from importance of technology to strength and conditioning to life skills training. Post 12 months, Bridges of Sports will open this content to public, as we will move towards providing skill development to millions of Sandeeps across India.
About the author: Nitish M Chiniwar is the Founder and Director of Bridges of Sports Foundation.
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