Why playing sports for fun is so important for kids

Vega Schools, Gurgaon



Babies and children love playing, running and jumping around all over the place. When they start going to school, somehow, everyone is keen that they follow a structured programme without appreciating that we are all unique and different things work for all of us. Almost all children love to be active, but not necessarily all of what is being done at school, and almost definitely not the way it’s being done. Giving it structure and making it compulsory makes sure, even if done for now, that it is not carried on for life. Soon, the same fun activities get boring or even seem like punishment. Sometimes, they actually are punishment. The philosophy of Montessori education tries to align with what young humans should be exposed to by promoting self-directed activity that supports physical and interactive (with others) play. Unfortunately, most early years education settings (pre nursery, nursery school, kindergarten, etc.) become too rigid and push children into routines that they are not ready for.

In school, you could have possibly picked up sports because of the love of it, but as you get better, the primary thing that everyone wants to focus on is you becoming better, and why not. We all should do justice to what skills we have.

 Here is when the coach or physical education teacher comes in, who, even with the best of intentions, is starting to make everything more regimental with the intent to keep you improving. The fun is slowly going out.

 As you start moving up from the class team to the school team and then further up to represent your district, the pressure is on performance, not on fun and enjoyment. By now it’s become a chore, if it wasn’t already one.

Elders, parents and coaches are often yelling at you or each other so that your results can improve, whether justified or not. They all want you to win because they had a dream to win that for themselves, their school, district, state or country. You don’t really matter. Darren can recall playing football (soccer) for a local team when he was a teenager, where every week he would witness pushy and often angry parents either shouting at their children, other’s children, or each other! This was all in the pursuit of what they thought would help their children perform better. The ones who excel at a sport because they are talented or enjoy doing it are the only ones who carry on doing it. They are the fortunate few. They have mentors and coaches who help them enjoy the journey rather than get bothered by the results.


This is about elites who move up the ladder quickly. Most systems, even in most good schools focusing on physical activities and sports, are structured in a manner that the above average, average and below average who don’t make the cut for teams, end up becoming the audience. Not being appreciated for your efforts and playing only because it’s part of the system soon just becomes a chore too, more like punishment. It is a known fact that many girls stop taking part in any form of physical activity when they leave school. There are, of course, many reasons for this, but one reason is that they are not allowed to take part in sports and activities that they enjoy and feel comfortable about taking part in on their own.
Excerpted from MoveMint Medicine by Dr. Rajat Chauhan and Dr. Darren Player with permission from Penguin Random House India

Rajat Chauhan

Sports Exercise Medicine Expert and Author

Leadership Board Vega Schools

Gurgaon Parents and top Gurgaon Schools who work hard to create structures should keep in mind that ultimately ‘fun’ is the source of motivation, which leads to deeper interest and purpose.

For more information on the above subject, write to us at info@vega.edu.in.

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