What are community-based sports? A brief outline
Undoubtedly, sport is one of the best means to unite people. It is something that a lot of people look up to, particularly the youth. To understand community-based sports, we must first look into the ‘community’ point of view. There exists several communities, even at present, that are subject to social exclusion and lack of opportunities with financial and geographical constraints.
While sport is an effective tool to bridge these gaps, a classic sports club or academy might not be the solution. The reason? Children from challenging backgrounds might still face atrocities and finding their feet could be difficult given the issues of social exclusion, and financial constraints.
This is where ‘community-based’ sports come into the picture. It allows them to reach the ‘hard-to-reach’ sections of society. Community sports are characterized by their affordability and easy accessibility, and they are typically organized within specific neighborhoods, particularly in urban areas. These features make community sports an ideal environment for individuals to connect with others who share similar interests safely and conveniently. Moreover, community sport has the potential to serve as a valuable tool for reaching socially disadvantaged groups. As a result, community sport has gained recognition and importance at a global level.
These sports typically involve participation from community members of various ages, backgrounds, and skill levels. Community-based sports often aim to promote physical activity, social interaction, and the overall well-being of individuals within the community. They can include organized leagues, recreational teams, fitness classes, and community events centered around sports and physical activities. The focus is on engaging and involving the local community, fostering a sense of belonging, and providing opportunities for people to participate in sports and lead an active lifestyle together.
History and Rise
Community-based sports have a long-standing history in India, deeply rooted in the country's rich sporting culture and traditions. Historically, sports and physical activities were an integral part of community life in various regions of India, serving as means of entertainment, recreation, and social cohesion.
Traditional community-based sports in India date back centuries and were often influenced by regional customs and practices. It varied across different regions and included sports such as kabaddi, kho kho, gilli-danda, and many others. It was not only recreational but also served as platforms for showcasing physical prowess and fostering community bonding.
In the modern era, community-based sports in India have witnessed a significant rise due to various factors. The growing awareness of the importance of sports for health and well-being, the emergence of organized sporting events, and the promotion of grassroots sports development have contributed to the popularity of community-based sports.
Several initiatives and programs have been launched by the Indian government and non-governmental organizations to promote community sports. The aim is to provide accessible and affordable opportunities for people from all walks of life, particularly those in economically disadvantaged areas. These initiatives have played a crucial role in identifying and nurturing young talent, enhancing sports infrastructure at the community level, and fostering a sporting culture.
Additionally, the success of Indian athletes on the international stage, particularly in football, hockey, badminton, and wrestling, has inspired and motivated individuals to actively participate in sports. The achievements of these athletes have created role models within communities, encouraging more people to take up sports and pursue excellence.
Furthermore, the advent of social media and digital platforms has played a significant role in the rise of community-based sports in India. It has provided avenues for local sports enthusiasts and organizers to connect, share information, and promote sporting events at the grassroots level, thereby amplifying the reach and impact of community sports initiatives.
Empowering Local Athletes
Employing sports as a tool for social development and transformation represents an innovative approach to attaining increased well-being, empowerment, and fairness within society. Engaging in sports is linked to decreased anxiety, increased self-belief, boosted confidence, and positive social outcomes in children and adolescents.
Community-based sports empower local athletes by providing accessible opportunities, skill development, confidence-building, social support, leadership opportunities, fostering community pride, and serving as a pathway for advancement. These factors contribute to the overall growth, development, and empowerment of athletes within their local communities.
Simply Sport Foundation - Simply Roots Program
Simply Sport Foundation believes that athletes striving to reach their full potential can impact countless others to do the same. The core motive is to promote better health, well-being, and career development for male and female athletes. The foundation aims to promote an inclusive society as a whole, while working with individuals, communities, and experts - they have already benefited nearly 1500+ athletes.
With the Simply Roots Program, the foundation helps grassroots sports academies spread across India. Simply Sport provides financial support while also aiding the academies with sports psychologists, nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches and the necessary equipment to allow the athletes to train to their maximum potential.
Empowering local athletes and grassroots academies is the mission. These are a few present examples -
Sandhya, hailing from Siliguri, a small town in West Bengal, is an accomplished Indian rugby player. She holds the distinction of being the sole Indian athlete among the 16 exceptional women players selected from Asia for Asia Rugby's Rugby Unstoppable campaign. Notably, she was a valuable member of the team that secured Silverware in the recent Asian Super Seven series. Alongside her sporting pursuits, Sandhya is also pursuing a degree in sports management, showcasing her dedication to both her athletic and academic endeavors.
Karnataka-born badminton player Saneeth competes at the national level. He has moved to the senior division, is currently ranked first in his state, and is aiming to crack the top 10 at the national level. Under the seasoned guidance of Arvind Bhat, he strives to reach the pinnacle of the men's singles world rankings and win an Olympic gold medal.
Rujula is a native of Bengaluru, Karnataka. She is now ranked first in the state in both women's and U-19 singles. She is also No. 3 in India for girls U- 17. (Badminton). Rujula recently won the Yonex-Sunrise All India Sub Junior Ranking Badminton Tournament in Lucknow.
The foundation helped the Bangalore-based Torpedoes volleyball team establish a grassroots academy where 23 boys and 7 girls receive training. It intends to introduce the game to more volleyball-playing communities around the state, scout for talent, and give them a stage to display their prowess.
The foundation oversees the grassroots program for the Kodagu Tigers badminton team in Kushalnagar (Kodagu), where 32 students from government schools receive badminton training from qualified coaches in a quality setting.
Rishab is an aspiring sports journalist, currently pursuing his master’s in multimedia journalism at Christ University, Bangalore. Having previously worked with various organizations such as TheNewsMinute, TimesNetwork, DeccanHerald, and Sportskeeda, he is an avid sports enthusiast.