#Personal Stories

Why do Indian women not play enough sport?

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A few  memories of our childhood are etched in our mind all through our life. One of them for me is how much  fascinated I was by outdoor games and sports when I was a child. I was an athletic and sporty sort of  girl. Right from the childhood, I played outdoor games more than the indoor ones –took delight in that workout which tested me out rather than games that confined me to a place indoors. But more I think of it, I wonder, why do Indian women not play enough sport?
My parents had an important role in developing my interest in sports and they constantly encouraged me to participate in it. When Sports Day was around the corner, I eagerly looked forward to participating in it. I took part in races, long jump, high jump and won prizes. It boosted my morale.
I would be always so eager to share my sporting feats to my parents. But as I grew older I noticed women who loved sport were constantly discourage or ridiculed for being ‘tom boys’. 
In our society, women are discouraged to take up sport. Parents insist while raising they daughters that they should learn kitchen skills. Some people even associate sport negatively when it comes to child bearing or having a ‘homely’ personality. Women doing sporting or adventure activities is considered not ideal.
While we are seeing more sporting icons on television and around us, for most part of our society, nothing has changed.
A BBC research shows, Indian adult shy away from playing sport. The research showed that as many as 64% of Indian adults did not participate in any kind of sport or physical activity. This figure was even worse when broken down by gender – nearly one and a half times more men (42%) said they played sport than women (29%).

As someone who believe sport is also a good way of spending me-time, women should encourage to be adventurous and sport loving from their early childhood. Gyming or exercising or taking up something regularly is a way of finding ourselves too. I make sure that I spend at least some time in exercising or playing  outdoor games and encourage the same in my child also. But I am an exception and not the norm.

Sport is a culture. We need to help women imbibe this from the very start. If I were not encouraged by my parents to participate in sports, I would not have taken such a keen interest at present in exercising but as it was a part of our culture I embraced it for good. Sporty women are not thought to have feminine qualities so they might not have the acumen to manage home.
Girls and women could learn martial art for defending themselves? Sport, defence and confidence all rolled into one. As a mother, I also feel that my daughter should learn it because I want  her to grow into a mentally and physically stronger woman instead of a vulnerable, weak and delicate one.
As a fitness buff, here’s what keeps me going.
  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy and balanced diet
  • Drinking enough water
  • Sound sleep
  • Some weight lifting exercises

We even discount how sports can be a mood lifter via the good hormones it brings. I could say this with confidence, it’s helped me stay sharp and strong and enthusiastic about life.


During my childhood, after coming back from school I used to play  badminton for at least an hour with my friends.We had a badminton court in our premises. I could recall I used to play with a lot of passion and interest. I played until my feet hurt and arms ached. However, it made me feel cheered up.

The recent Olympic performance by Indian women, and a general focus on fitness post COVID shows if women want to take these up, they will excel and benefits from it. When will we start realising that Indian women are made of solid stuff – breaking gender stereotypes and winning their games in what were called “unsuitable sports” like wrestling, boxing, kabaddi and weightlifting. Shall we take some inspiration from them?

This is a contributory article. Views expressed are author’s own. Want to share a story? Write to [email protected]

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