The final match played between the girls of St Augustine School (Nerul) and St Andrew’s College (Bandra) had a shocking lack of facilities. The Nerul School beat their opponents but that is only one part of the story. There was no changing room for the girls, and the organisers -- the District Sports Office (DSO) -- had failed to provide washrooms for the girls. The girls had to change their uniforms inside the school van! There was not even a temporary shed or tent erected near the venue for girls to change their clothes. This is either a shocking oversight or a deliberate miss from organizers of sports tournaments. These are absolute basics -- changing facilities and water at the venues. Unless they arrange such basic amenities, organisers should not get the green light to hold a tournament.
A St Augustine student was quoted in the report stating that they had to change their clothes in the van, as they could not change in public like the boys do. A coach complained about the lack of hygiene, as many girls wait to go home to change out of their sportswear.
Such complaints are depressingly familiar. Several tournaments played at this level -- school and college -- are played in grounds where there are no toilets or changing rooms for players. Clean water, a mustfor any sport, is unavailable. Children are forced to commute back from tourneys wearing the same clothes they did for the match. A shower may be two or more hours away at home.
A nation that aspires to become a sporting power and is eyeing medals at the Olympics must ensure good facilities from the grassroots onwards. The children of today are the champions of tomorrow. Let them compete in cleanliness and a healthy, dignified environment.
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