Sonia Dogra

We are entering the lull season of the year. Literally the lull before the storm. As icy winds do the rounds and schools in the town wind up another year’s business, children are bundled up in homes with long hours to be filled up with meaningful activities.

Yes, times today are rather demanding and being idle is almost blasphemous. Therefore, a host of activities to engage your children in their three-month long winter vacation are often lined up at various places. One such very suitable and active place for your child to be this winter season could be the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex at the Mall Road. A sporty affair would be ideal this vacation.

Before we move ahead to discuss the array of sports activities offered at the complex, let us analyse… why sports?

You probably already know the answer. We all do. Well, besides providing a platform for intense physical activity and general fitness, sports help to develop confidence, self-esteem and social skills. They help fight obesity and keep children off television! Such a benefit in this technology ridden world.

Whether team based or individual, games help children realise the importance of setting a goal and practising tirelessly to achieve the same. Persistence, if I may call it. Games play a major part in developing social skills in children. They learn to interact with other children, coaches and those junior to them. They are often endowed with responsibilities and this helps them develop leadership skills. They learn team spirit and develop effective communication skills. Sharing and caring come along and we see a balanced individual who can handle both physical and mental stress. Yes, be rest assured, that sports help to combat all kind of stress and gives one the ability to fight back. In fact, one learns to handle all kinds of pressure.

It is believed that psychological development is alleviated with involvement in physical activities. One can see changes in motor skill development and even educational potential.

With so many benefits to be reaped sports should certainly be seen as the first priority to keep children occupied this winter season.

The Indira Gandhi Sports Complex on the Mall Road is an ideal place to help your child take up a game of interest and practice and learn the same under the guidance of the right coach / trainer. Located at a central place, the complex boasts of providing a range of sports activities to choose from. Badminton, Table Tennis, Boxing, Taekwondo, Karate and Shooting are some of the sports one can hope to master. The complex hosts a fitness centre as well.

But mind you, being a trainee at the complex is no child’s play. You may be a child, but you are expected to adhere to the rules and regulations. A sports kit is a must. A sportsperson is expected to have the right kind of uniform and sports gear. While the complex claims to provide the equipment, it is always better to carry your own stuff. Sometimes the number of players is huge and not everyone can manage to grab whatever is available at the complex. If you think you can manage in jeans and fancy clothes, well, you couldn’t be more wrong! Anyone found inappropriately dressed may not be allowed to even enter the play arena. And yes, you are expected to be very, very punctual. While most children join the complex only during the winter break, there are others who find their calling and continue during the academic session as well. That is when crowd thins out and you can find enough space and time to practice.

The admission procedure is rather simple. The form can be bought for a mere ten rupees from the counter at the ground floor. You need two passport size photographs to accompany the form, which must be duly filled and submitted in the office along with the membership fee. You are immediately issued the Identity Card, which you are expected to bring to the complex every time you come for training. The fee structure is different for students and non-students. Yes, if you happen to be a student, you can expect a subsidy! All you need to do is get your form signed and stamped by the Principal of your school.

It may be said that during the winter vacations the count of students who wish to train is pretty much and several batches are started to accommodate the crowd. Irrespective of that, children can be seen struggling to find space to play. Also in such a scenario the coach cannot / is not present to take all sessions and many a times senior students take over to train the new entrants.

The fee structure for students and non-students is different.

Centre timings are from four to seven in the evening but they may vary depending upon the number of students in a game and your coach’s discretion. Shooting, for example, is open from nine in the morning to five in the evening. Similarly, timings for other games are also flexible. Game fee is to be deposited every month. In case somebody wishes to skip training for a particular month, an application mentioning the same must be deposited before the seventh of the month.

The Indira Gandhi Sports Complex is a viable option for children to practice a sport of their choice. But as a coach truly points out, parents often consider it as a creche and it becomes difficult to manage unruly children. This causes loss of time and opportunity for those who seriously wish to pursue a game.

It is rightly said, that if we wish to make optimum use of the available resources, we must learn to tend to them with care and responsibility. The complex needs a more accountable participation of both parents and the authorities so that the crowds can be streamlined and children can reap maximum benefit during their winter sojourn at Shimla’s supposed Mecca of Sports!

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