Every year, on August 29, India commemorates National Sports Day, dedicated to honouring the legendary hockey player Major Dhyan Chand Singh. Beyond celebrating a sporting icon, this day serves a higher purpose – emphasising the importance of sports and physical activity in everyone’s life. In a historic move in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the ‘Fit India Movement on National Sports Day.’
The Fit India Movement: An overview
The Fit India Movement, a government initiative, stands at the forefront of India’s pursuit of a healthier and more active nation. Its primary objective is to inspire every Indian to prioritise fitness and overall well-being. While the government has played a crucial role in supporting elite athletes with world-class facilities and resources, the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the sports sector cannot be overstated. These organisations offer a unique perspective and a grassroots approach that holds the potential to significantly impact the Fit India Movement.
The Fit India Movement is not solely about grooming future Olympians; it aims to foster a culture of fitness and well-being accessible to all. This requires a multi-pronged approach in a nation as diverse and economically varied as India. Here, sports NGOs come to the fore.
How NGOs in India can bridge the gap for aspiring athletes
Many Sports NGOs focus on reaching out to youngsters from disadvantaged and marginalised communities. They understand that sports can be a powerful tool for transforming lives and improving livelihoods. These organisations provide sporting opportunities to those without access, effectively breaking down socio-economic barriers. In a country grappling with various social and economic challenges, sports emerges as an unexpected agent of change.
Sports NGOs dedicated to sports development often concentrate on nurturing emerging talents. They act as vital connectors between aspiring athletes and the essential resources required for their success. For instance, they provide additional funding for training, competition, and travel, often making a difference for athletes on their journey to excellence.
One striking example is the support provided to javelin star Neeraj Chopra when he faced a career-threatening elbow injury in 2019. A sports nonprofit provided critical medical support and rehabilitation, ensuring India did not lose a potential international gem.
NGOs are adept at understanding the unique challenges different communities and regions face. They tailor their programs to local needs, making fitness more accessible and culturally relevant.
In addition to their on-ground initiatives, sports NGOs also play a pivotal advocacy role. They collaborate closely with policymakers and government bodies, influencing sports-related policies. By offering insights and evidence-based recommendations, these organisations contribute significantly to creating a more conducive environment for sports development and fitness promotion.
Best Charities in India in sports
Take the example of Khel Khel Mein Foundation (KKMF) which is dedicated to revolutionising grassroots sports culture in India through direct engagement with schools and communities. KKMF has impacted over 10,000 children in 80 schools, championing sports at both primary and secondary levels.
Another top NGO in India in sports promotion is Bridges of Sports. Once parents are persuaded of their children’s talents and potential, Bridges of Sports takes them under its nurturing care. This encompassing support includes accommodation, top-tier training, and proper nutrition, providing young individuals from underprivileged backgrounds with a pathway to international-level professionalism. Moreover, they ensure these youths receive an education that opens doors to alternative career opportunities. Bridges of Sports aspires to witness one of its protégés compete at the prestigious Olympics.
The Fit India Movement finds a valuable ally in sports NGOs. By bridging gaps for emerging athletes, equalising sporting opportunities, encouraging grassroots participation, and advocating for sports policies, these organisations are indispensable contributors to the nation’s fitness journey. As India strives for a healthier and fitter tomorrow, the role of these NGOs will continue to grow in significance. Together, they can help India shine on the global sporting stage while ensuring every Indian can lead a fit and active life.