Pullela Gopichand is aiming to bring back physical literacy through this Hyderabad-based initiativeHema Vaishnavi
To improve the quality of physical literacy and knowledge of sports in India, Gopichand, has initiated Physical Literacy Programme.
While there a number of downsides of leading a sedentary lifestyle such as obesity, diabetes, mental unrest, the lack of physical literacy among children across the country and the world alike, has been one of the prime effects.
If some of you are wondering what physical literacy is all about, you’re not alone. While the term physical literacy merely talks about the acquiring and development of physical movements and the skills that go along with it such as running, throwing, catching or even hopping, it is a larger issue than meets the eye.
Pullela Gopichand, National Chief Coach of Indian Badminton, has initiated Physical Literacy Programme with the vision to increase sports knowledge base in India by integrating sports, education, health and recreation through a formal research-oriented training for children.
Physical Literacy Days
It all began a couple of years ago when Gopichand threw a shuttle at a child who was not able to catch it. Not only did she miss it, she also did not know how to catch it. This got Gopichand thinking that children are more challenged than one can imagine.
Gopichand, who firmly believes in the need for physical activity among kids, began to actively work towards bringing the concept of physical literacy into the education system. At the same time, he hoped that his effort would spearhead a social change in the field of education. To set things in motion, Gopichand and his team contacted the International Physical Literacy Association (IPLA) based in the United Kingdom.
Since discovering the concept of Physical Literacy, Gopichand and his team has pioneered attempts to bring about mass participation in sports and spread awareness on the subject, starting from his home state, Andhra Pradesh. Their first project brought together approximately 800 physical education teachers from Andhra Pradesh to receive physical education training as well as an introduction to physical literacy.
The 800 teachers were given a range of workshops facilitated by Sport for Life Society, a Canadian organisation that delivered sessions on lesson planning, teaching games for understanding, assessment as well as some content knowledge for physical education lessons.
Further, inspired by the successful Raahgiri initiative in Cyberabad, Gopi Chand and his team conceptualised ‘Physical Literacy Days’ as a community engagement programme under the Physical Literacy Programme. It aimed to bring change in the well-being of people from all sections/ages, by making them adopt an active lifestyle.
The programme will witness an introduction of variety of sports, art and cultural events, workshops, talks, fitness programmes and fun activities. The locations will be identified and free access will be given for people to participate.
In the last few years, somewhere down the line, we have lost the importance of physical movement. We have moved a lot more towards alphabetical literacy, numerical literacy and forgotten what the basics of physical literacy are. We have lost the fundamental of physical movement and it brings us back to our early days when our own native games used to have so much physical literacy in them, says Gopichand, the chief patron and initiative leader of the Physical Literacy Programme.
Gopichand and his team point out to the different statistics that suggest abnormalities among kids — 436,122 premature deaths happen every year in India due to physical inactivity and obesity. Childhood obesity is reaching alarming proportions with India reporting around 22 percent prevalence rate over the last five years in children and adolescents aged between five to 19 years.
According to the National Health Survey, Hyderabad is known for highest number of diabetic cases and is ranked number one in terms of the number of women suffering from obesity.
These alarming facts and Gopichand’s own personal experience led to Gopichand starting Physical Literacy Days. And in the past six months, this community programme has been seeing participants from all across the town, at Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy every Sunday from 6:00 am to 9:30 am.
In the last six to seven years, there is a huge shift in outdoor sports and activities in Hyderabad. We have been working on several community campaigns and initiatives to create awareness on liveable and healthy cities. But there is a lot to be done. Physical Literacy movement by Pullela Gopichand is game changer, says Vishala Reddy, Founder Director, Ident CITY and coordinator of Physical Literacy Days programme.
Physical literacy crossed its first milestone in July when it completed six months. Its team is involved in the advocacy of sports programmes and policy making/infrastructure development guidance.
In the coming months, it plans on implementing programmes in schools for the introduction of sports curriculum, training, and coaching. It also plans to conduct community programmes and develop eco systems with sports institutes, retailers, colleges, corporate offices, fitness institutes, citizen clubs. Further, the team also plans to come up with community engagements programme by well-designed activity calendar throughout the year at identified locations.
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