Current Situation Has Increased The Awareness And Importance Of Good Health And Overall Fitness: Dr Sankar UV, The Sports School

In an exclusive talk with BW Education, Dr Sankar UV, Director, The Sports School, spoke about the institution and more.

Tell us in brief about The Sports School and its core focus.

The Sports School is the only institution in India that integrates sports and education to ensure that our students don’t have to compromise one over the other while creating the perfect training ground for them to become the champions of tomorrow. We offer an educational curriculum that instead of just including sports, has academics built around sports. We encourage and provide means to our students, from Grade 1 to Post Graduation, to balance their pursuit for both sporting and academic excellence.

What was the inspiration behind this unique concept and how the concept was implemented into reality?

Parents around the world, especially in India face the difficult decision of letting their children pursue a career in sports as the traditional education system is not flexible enough to balance both sports and academics. This can take a toll on their academic qualifications or force them to quit their sporting dreams. Recognizing the persistence of this issue in India, The Sports School was established with the vision to integrate sports and education to encourage young sports enthusiasts and support professional athletes.

Our 25-acre campus is equipped with all the international level facilities for both Sports & Education. Our innovative curriculum is designed to equip students with tools that support them in becoming well-rounded professionals in the world of Sports and doesn’t adhere to the popular opinion that sports and academics are two different ends of the spectrum. Instead, it has been weaved in a manner that both young sports enthusiasts and professional athletes get to pursue a career in sports with the best possible training and mentorship while getting academically qualified at the same time.

Now-a-days almost every school is focussing on sports along with academics. How in that sense, is The Sports School unique?

Agreed that the focus on sports in schools has seen a positive upturn, but the fact remains that they are still pushed as an extracurricular activity rather than a career option. At The Sports School, we not only encourage kids to pursue their love for sports but also equip them with all necessary skills, training and a platform to become world-class sportspersons, without compromising on their academics. We have tied up with top professionals in each sport to help our students get the best training and mentorship, at our 25 acres campus which has state of the art sports infrastructure. 

We offer different sports programs for students of different sporting skill-level and have the academic curriculum designed accordingly. A student at The Sports School attends not more than 4 hours of academic classes and the rest of the day is dedicated to their sporting development. We take young sports enthusiasts under our wing to nurture them and support their ambitions by providing them with an innovative amalgamation of an educational curriculum running parallel to professional sports mentorship. 

For professional athletes, we offer programs that combine both academics and sports training in a way that they can pursue academic qualifications while freely and aggressively pursuing their sports career and training under the best possible conditions. We do this with the help of one-on-one classes, special weekend course capsules, that allow them to participate in tournaments and dedicate themselves to training. 

The academic schedule is tailored around sports, but the quality is maintained. The education follows CBSE curriculum for classes 1 to 10th, Karnataka State Board for PUC and the UG and PG courses are affiliated to Jain (deemed-to-be-university).

Along with all these sports and academic facilities, our fees include access to a Sports Psychologist, Physiotherapist and Nutritionist. 

What are the facilities at The Sports School? How is the infrastructure going to help the students in advanced level sports?

We have a 25-acre campus with one of the best state-of-the-art sporting and academic infrastructures in India to prepare our students for the highly competitive world of sports. For sports we have FIFA Quality Pro Certified Artificial Turf for football which is the only one in the country, 7 ITF Classified Acrylic Cushioned Tennis Courts with floodlights, 2 International standard natural turf Cricket ground, FIBA standard Basketball courts, and a 12 court BFI standard badminton facility. Facilities for academics include smart classrooms, various labs and a library. 

We also realize the importance of medical and other assistance for both our young and professional athletic students. Some of the prominent facilities offered are sports psychologist sessions, Physiotherapy, Doctors, 24x7 nurses, modern residential facilities, personalised nutrition, etc. 

How is The Sports School is coping with COVID-19? What preventive measures are being taken to ensure the safety and healthy environment for the students and staffs once the school reopens?

We have been closely monitoring the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and as the situation continues to change rapidly, our top priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our staff and students. We have planned for contingency scenarios by taking decisive and informed actions to stop the spread of the infection on campus while ensuring the continuity of our teaching and research mission. Keeping in mind that learning should never stop, we have started online smart classes for both academics and sports coaching. There are several other preventive measures in places on campus, such as the Sanitization of Campus, Social Distancing,  Regular Temperature & Health Checks, Mandatory Use of Mask and other Face Coverings, etc. The campus is also gearing up to resume professional sports coaching for individual sports like Tennis, permitted by the government, with all safety measures in place as per AITA and ITF guidelines.

Please share your opinion on the road ahead in sports post lockdown. 

Despite the fact that our way of playing sports and life, in general, are being affected, I believe that sports have a bright chance of picking up post the lockdown. There will certainly be the aspect of heightened safety protocols for the foreseeable future, and since the people of our country have become more conscious of their health, participating in sports to improve fitness will grow. Once sports resume, social distancing is going to be the new norm and athletes will certainly be more cautious of their well-being.

The current situation has also increased the awareness and importance of good health and overall fitness, which is The Sports School’s philosophy. 

The parents are not very confident in sending their children to school. As a residential school, do you think the parents will be more confident in sending them to The Sports School?

Parents’ concern with sending their children to school is extremely understandable. But at The Sports School, we have implemented all the necessary safety measures like social distancing, sanitizing of hands and campus, and mandatory use of masks. Our Campus is on the outskirts of the city; hence there is limited to no interaction between the campus and the residential areas. Apart from this, we are also implementing smaller groups of students during training and academics to minimize the risk of spreading of the pandemic. Our residential facility is built to accommodate over 500 students and this allows us to ensure optimum social distancing by restricting the number of students in each room. 

We are also ensuring that no social distancing norm shall be violated by both students and coaches alike. Along with residential facilities, The Sports School also offers a day boarding model, with transportation facility, for the local students. 

Due to prolonged lockdown, every accessibility of training for sports is shut. How is The Sports School managing to train their students even during the lockdown? What added measures are being taken for the sports which require physical contacts like football, basketball and cricket?

We have started providing online classes so that students are keeping fit and are able to maintain their form. We are also encouraging our students to interact with coaches and mentors to ensure that they keep in touch with any developments in their sport and are motivated. Once the physical sessions resume, we are going to implement smaller groups of students during training and academics to minimize the risk of spreading of the pandemic. We are also ensuring that no social distancing norm shall be violated by both students and coaches alike. As mentioned away, we are in the process of resuming professional training for sports like Tennis, keeping in mind all government and social distancing guidelines.

Please tell us about various partnerships with sporting agencies. 

At The Sports School, we believe that in order for potential talent to become a professional athlete, they need to train under the best possible guidance and facilities. Our sporting partners design the sports curriculum for each student and train them based on their sporting level.

Sporting Partners at The Sports School include

-Tennis: Rohan Bopanna Tennis Academy

-Badminton: Pullela Gopicand as Chief Mentor

-Cricket: Center for Cricketing Excellence with Robin Uthappa as Chief Mentor

-Football: Bengaluru FC

-Basketball: NBA Basketball School

Apart from them, we have renowned sportspersons like Shikha Tandon and Vikram Kanth who are part of our advisory board. 

Our team of internationally renowned sporting partners ensure The Sports School achieves its vision of transforming young talent into well-rounded professionals in the world of Sports.

What is the expansion plan of The Sports School? 

In the coming future, we plan on including more sports as options for students to choose from. We are also planning to upgrade the academic programs so that we can offer more opportunities for our students. In the next 2 years, we want to expand this model to other metros in order to provide young Indian talent with a platform to achieve their sporting dreams.

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