Ripples of India’s limited success at this year’s Olympics are already trickling through the city’s sporting arena. The Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA), the 114-year-old body which conducts inter-school competitions for boys and girls, is now witnessing an increasing interest in female boxing, and expects a further spike.
The association’s first boxing summer camp for girls in April this year received 85 entries. At their inter-school competition last year, 22 girls had participated in the sport. The year before, the number was less than 12. “This year, we expect even better response,” said Sebastien Fernandes, general secretary, MSSA. “Mary Kom’s success is likely to give a boost to the sport for girls. Many might be tempted to learn it.”
MSSA conducts sports in three age groups in 20 disciplines.
At the London 2012 games, India won medals in boxing, shooting, wrestling and badminton. Saina Nehwal’s meteoric rise in badminton, too, has been inspirational for many. “Schools have expressed their interest in badminton in the past three or four months. But, it might be too early to link it to the Olympics,” said Saumil Majmudar, co-founder, EduSports, which offers outsourced physical education programmes to schools.
Sportseed, a Delhi-based sports education provider which aims to expand to Mumbai schools by 2014, has a programme to specifically promote Olympic sports in schools. “We are looking at creating school-level sports leagues and a broader base for identifying talent,” said Sudhanshu Fadnis, founder-director of Sportseed.
Interest in archery, too, has been growing. “It is very popular among our students,” said Vrinda Malse, principal, Sanjivani International School, Navi Mumbai, which recently introduced the sport. The association is also looking at setting up archery facilities on its premises at Dhobi Talao.
As part of the new sports policy, the state government is looking at demarcating games, with a focus on training in sports in which youngsters have been excelling. “Maharashtra has been strong in shooting and wrestling, so these are likely to get priority. However, students excelling in any sport at the national level will be identified for advanced training,” said a senior official from the sports department.