The importance of sport was one that I never understood to its true essence. Not because I took it for granted but because I have engaged in it for almost every day of my life for the past 12 years, so I never knew how incomplete my life was without it. Whether it was swimming classes at 5 a.m. before school in just LKG or 4-hour squash sessions after school, my life was surrounded by sports. It was my escape route from the rest of the world and all the complications it came with. However, this all changed the evening of 24th March 2020 – the day the news of the lockdown was announced in India.
I remember sitting in front of the TV thinking no worries it’s only two weeks and I will be back onto the court in no time. But it wasn’t long before this “two weeks” turned into a month which turned into three and now here we are at a year. Who would have thought? Definitely not me. Despite all the difficulties and challenges, the year 2020 threw at us, it taught me one thing, the true value of sport not only in my life but in my daily routine. From teaching me discipline, patience, hard work to helping me understand the spirit of sportsmanship; it played an integral role of help shaping me into the person that I am today. More than that, however, it gave me something to look forward to, it gave me direction, it gave me a goal in life. And without this sense of direction, I was left empty, unsure of what to do next, how to use all this time that I now had. This got me to think and I realized how grateful I truly am to have at least gotten the opportunity to be involved in sports. What about all the other millions of children all over, who had never held a racket or kicked a ball just simply because of their unfortunate? How much they were missing on! Reflecting upon this I decided to make it my mission to help other children experience the same joy of participating in sports that I felt when I played to the best I could.
This led me to start my initiative, “Sportzunite” which aims at sharing the happiness that comes from playing a sport along with connecting children with one another to help make the impossible possible. A few steps that we have taken involve organizing online fitness training for a group of 20 students from a BMC school (Shastrinagar BMC school) in Mumbai, INR 70,000 fundraiser to fund judo training and tournaments of the same children and a shoe collection drive which was distributed among three organizations (Angel Express, Khelshala Foundation, and Shastrinagar BMC school) and almost 100 children. We have also conducted online workshops with the students of NGOs like ‘My Helping Hands’ to spread awareness about the importance of engaging in sporting activities and encouraging them to continue participating in the same despite the current situation. Lastly, we organized a cycling drive, “Cycle for a Cause” to fuel the growth of para-sports in India. This consisted of a fundraiser and inclusion rides for visually impaired tandem cyclists in Mumbai.
We hope to continue expanding this project by bringing together as many children together through the joy of taking part in sports by facilitating equipment and training, spreading awareness, and encouraging children.
Saisha Gupta is a 16-year-old from Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai. (Website Link- https://www.sportzunite.com)