Six schools, 200 children, 30 volunteers all made way for one big sporting event on the 28th of Jan, 2011 at the inaugural Kondattam inter corporation school sports championships in Chennai. The day began quite early for some of the volunteers as we had to assemble at the SRMC grounds at 6 am, after hurriedly wrapping up pending work till 2 AM the previous night. Registration desks were setup, a live blogger (Rajarajan who posted updates using my facebook profile) was identified, another guy took charge of scoring the day’s events, some had to write the bib numbers for the participants, some did certificate writing, and a few more went around the ground identifying the spots the different events would take place.
Luckily we had a lot of folks who could handle all this and the incharge of the microphone went to the able hands (or should I say, throat) of Natarajan. People who are not regular DI volunteers, utilized this wonderful opportunity to be a part of one of our events and help out the whole day at the ground.
After a few initial hiccups, we assembled the 200 children in different locations in the ground (It took about 10 van trips in all) after registering them in with breakfast (bun, butter, jam and bananas). The event began with Ms Shiny, a sports nutritionist, declaring the meet open with some encouraging words and before you knew it, the boys were off the blocks competing for the 100M gold! A few seconds later, one of them sliced through the finish line and fell to the ground gasping for breath, followed in quick succession by the others. The games were on!
The other events - 100M, 200M, 400M, Long jump, Discus throw, Shot Put - followed in rapid pace and glasses of Glucon-D were consumed rapidly. The unfortunate event of the day came when a junior girl ran the 200M race and had a sprain in her leg. Luckily an X-ray at the hospital itself revealed no apparent fracture, just a two day rest was suggested. Mr Dobson, a physiotherapist, stressed the importance of stretching, wearing good shoes, and warm-ups before any such race. ‘Competing in such hot temperatures with bare foot and with no proper technique to warm up or stretch is a recipe for such injuries,’ he said. One of our volunteers immediately met the school teams individually and conveyed the message to them along with teaching them some basic warm-up, stretching exercises. This is also a lesson for the Physical Directors of all the schools to lay stress on such finer aspects of training the children.
The exertion of the day so far resulted in the lunch packets being gobbled up quickly. Kho-kho was up next and the Valasarawakkam girls school proved to be utter professionals easily outwitting all the others and standing a class apart by winning the finals 8-1. Cricket, introduced in the event, in order to provide audience enjoyment, proved to be drab. With wide balls being bowled more than legally correct ones, the only thing providing some entertainment was the funny commentary given by the two of our volunteers. The volunteers though, got a break as they relaxed under the shamiana and watched three utterly boring cricket matches. This would probably be the last time cricket will be played in Kondattam.
One of the more touching scenes of the day was the sight of children from Vasantham (www.vasantham.org) giving it their best try in all the athletic events. They finished every event and won the hearts of all present. They then performed a 3 minute drill session at the end of which the audience could not help getting to their feet and applauding their wonderful performance.
The Chief Guests for the day were Mr Meenakshi Sundaram, former Tamil Nadu hockey player and Mr Srinivasan, mentor and leader of the Action2020 groups, which is an umbrella organization housing more than 30 organisations like Dream India . They distributed the prizes to the individual winners amidst loud cheers from the respective schools. The rolling trophy for the boys’ events went to Alappakkam High School and the one for the girls’ events went to Government High School, Valasarawakkam. As the sun set, cooling things off, the winners took a victory lap around the ground and also hooted cheers to Dream India and all our volunteers.
Participation sure matters, but in future, Dream India aims to help these schools improve their sporting infrastructure, to identify budding talent, and produce champions. This was a first step, we learnt a lot from this outing, and will try to conduct programmes all throughout this year to improve the skills of the children. We thank all the volunteers who braved the hot sun and made the games a success. We thank people abroad who not only contributed generously to the event, but also helped in organizing by involving in writing down rules for the different events, preparing templates, and so on. We also thank the dean and staff of Sri Ramachandra Medical college, for not just sponsoring the ground for the entire day, but also arranging for markers, and assisting with organizing the different events the whole day.