While gender equality has come a long way, there is still room for improvement, especially in sports.
Women are traditionally not encouraged to indulge in sports. Sports are men oriented, where men play and women watch. Girls are encouraged to learn virtues of a good homemaker since their childhood, whereas boys are encouraged to play outdoor sports.
Women face many other inadequacies in sport including less coverage, declining salaries, less funding and sponsorship and in some sports experienced and trained coaches, facilities and equipment are required.
The Art of Sport is a Delhi startup that trains young girls in sports to challenge gender roles and break stereotypes. Founded in 2016 by the husband wife duo, Richard Paiva and Nupur Dhingra Paiva, the Art of Sport prides itself as India’s first and only startup that aims to focus on the overall development of young girls from the age of five to twelve through their participation in sports and group activities.
Presently, they operate from three venues in Delhi and NCR (Chanakyapuri, Shanti Niketan, and Gurgaon), and organise two sessions a week. Each session is approximately one hour and 45 minutes with 16-18 girls per session. They also believe that it is very important to have a ‘girls only’ atmosphere where girls can learn the basics of a sport by playing alongside members of their own gender. This helps them understand team dynamics, persist with practice and find their voice.
In this year itself, they are planning to keep their focus on varied methods of training. They are also working on having an indoor location where they can safely continue drills and group work without the hassle of rain, heat, mosquito-borne diseases and smog. Richard spoke to ‘Your Story’ saying, “This indoor space will be our flagship bringing together our expertise. The USP is to be easy to access—we want to be able to run this program in local parks or community centres of residential colonies so the girls in that area can access our group, get an opportunity to play locally so that parents don’t have to worry about logistics.”
The power of sport should never be underestimated. Rules of sport, often complex, teach us to think tactically. Playing different sports encourages us to think one step ahead of our opponent. A footballer in a penalty shoot-out has to make tactical decisions under immense pressure. And that psychological pressure translates to the business world when time-sensitive choices need to be made independently.
I believe that if we start now, we’ll be raising a generation of young women with skills they need to learn. We’ll be seeing the benefits come to fruition with the equalisation of women in management positions, boardrooms and CEOs in the future.
Organizations like this one are there to achieve the shared goal of investing in girls skills and training to support a generation of stronger, more confident and empowered women.
Hopefully, there will be more initiatives like this in the future. Do check out their Facebook page and support them!