Khelo India, Khelbo Chhattisgarh: Sports for All
By Venkatesh Malur
Dornapal, about 115kms from Dantewada District Head quarters lies in the heart of the area affected by the civil strife in Chhattisgarh. Once a village now it has become a municipal town providing residential facilities for around 40,000 persons from nearby villages and 1700 children who are studying in the camp schools.
Two year ago, Unicef introduced the model of bamboo structures for child friendly classrooms by erecting 32 classrooms for about 1200 children in this camp. Subsequently the government upscaled the model and similar bamboo structures were erected in various locations across the districts which now house around 6000 children enrolled in the ashram school almost 90% belonging to the tribal communities.
It is 0100 in the morning; despite the rain all 300 children are ready and have taken out a flag march and walked across the Dornapal Camp area to create awareness on the sports activities. The march culminates at the stadium where they have assembled to demonstrate the various events for which they have practiced and rehearsed. The collector Ms. Reena Kangaley has just arrived.
District Collector recognises the efforts of Unicef through the sports and development programme to provide various participatory sports activities for children in the conflict area and assures to provide all the required support from the district administration. She has asked the stakeholders to organize more events for children which would provide them a chance to participate and exhibit their talents.
The event is an occasion to honour the youth who have excelled in sports and have represented the state in various events. Salaam Jothi who has represented the state in athletics, Gajendra Sodhi who is a state long jump team member and Lakmu are honoured for their contribution and presented a momento and sports kit.
Around 1000 children have been provided basic training in sports and have played and practiced for the past two weeks in Dornapal where in coaches have spent considerable time to teach them yoga, athletics, volleyball, football, kho-kho and physical exercises. A group of children have taken on the role of reporters and met the state players and interviewed them about their sport and how they train and practice to achieve excellence in sport.
As part of the sports for development programme Unicef has supported the creation of safe spaces where all children can participate with a special emphasis on girls and children. Events are organized at the school, cluster, block and district level to encourage mass participation and enhanced performance. Sports kits have been provided to schools so that regular sport and play activities can take place for all children and also the community members.
Children in Dornapal are using the sports equipment with great excitement and are eager to play sport every day. They want to learn and understand how to play games thus providing them an opportunity to exhibit their natural talents.
Today Dornapal Camp School in Dantewada is a different picture than what it was two years ago as the children, teachers, community members and the district administration have jointly taken the initial step towards ensuring child friendly quality education and included these tribal children into the mainstream.