Mary Kom, Sunil Chhetri bat for a sports-friendly India, urge nation to adopt sports as a lifestyle

New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) India’s global sporting icons, six-time world champion boxer MC Mary Kom and captain of national football team Sunil Chhetri urged the nation to embrace sports and engage themselves in regular physical activity after a recent report revealed that kids and adults in the country lack the motivation to participate in sports and physical activities.

The report formulated by PUMA India and analytics firm Nielsen Sports reveals that the lack of inspiration to pursue sport and fitness as a lifestyle was attributed to a lack of time by the respondents. Both kids and adults listed this as the primary barrier to participating in sports and physical activities, followed by other challenges such as lack of facilities and high cost.

The report also indicated that kids in India surprisingly spend only 86 minutes on physical activities in a week on average which is less than the adults of the country who average 101 minutes on a weekly basis.

Voicing her thoughts on the findings of the report and PUMA’s ‘Let There Be Sport’ campaign Mary Kom said: “Sport and fitness activities are important for your wellbeing, no matter how old you are. In fact, it boosts brain power as you age. Given the hectic lives we lead, I feel sports must be a part of our daily regime. I persuade and encourage every Indian to work out or play at least one sport a day to keep fit. I will work closely with PUMA on this new campaign and will do everything in my capacity to support the cause of sport.”

The report discovered that adults with high sports participation are likely to exhibit more positive emotions than adults in general by 21% and a direct correlation was found between low sports participants and poor emotional well-being.

Emphasising the need to value sports as much as academics, football superstar Chhetri also expressed his thoughts on the state of play of India’s participation in sports and physical activities.

“The day we treat mathematics, science, geography, and sport equally in terms of importance, we will begin seeing a change. How can you improve athletically with one PT period in a week? Sports needs to be treated like a solid subject. It builds character, it is a serious career option and if nothing, it leaves you in a much better place on every front. Play a sport. Not to win but to compete, or get fitter. Just, simply play. It will teach you lessons that no textbook ever will,” said Chhetri.

The PUMA-Nielsen sports survey was conducted across 16 cities, with 4280 respondents aged from 18-65 years old (including parents of kids aged between 6-18).

The report also sheds light on the demographics of the participation of kids in sports or physical activities on a weekly basis with those in the East part of India (125 minutes) being notably more involved than those in the South (80 minutes), North (72 minutes) and West (68 minutes).

The new campaign by PUMA, headlined Let There Be Sport, questions the conventional mindset that sports is a digression from academics. It states that, in reality, there is a direct positive correlation between the adoption of sport and fitness and improved academic performance and emotional well-being. Sports equip one with skills such as discipline, teamwork, and navigating success and failure.

“PUMA’s new platform, Let There Be Sport, will be our priority this year. It will promote and encourage sport and fitness as a life skill. We will heavily invest in creating awareness towards sports adoption at a mass level, build more moments of inspiration, continue to support grassroots athletes, and work closely with key stakeholders across sectors to integrate sports and fitness into the main curriculum. In five years, we are confident that a sports-focussed survey will yield better insights in India,” said Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director of PUMA India and Southeast Asia.

PUMA has been actively contributing to the rise of sports culture in the country and this report will go a long way in helping them fulfil their goal of creating a sports-friendly and fit India.

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