Picture this: Its vacation time, the gullis and the building compounds look like a cricket or a soccer ground. The kids are engrossed in their games, aping their favorite players and trying to recreate the magic of the game in a constricted space. Suddenly one of them hits a major ‘Shot’ or a ‘Goal’ and there goes the ball hitting either a person or a flower-pot or window panes; and thus begins a huge show-down between the children and the person concerned.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Sadly this is the scenario everywhere. I remember my grandmother once narrating her childhood stories. She had said that her childhood days were filled with fun and innocence and that there were absolutely no playing restrictions whatsoever. “We would run in those large, paddy fields; play hide and seek and many more games” she would say. “But now children have no place to play”, she added remorsefully. “Yes”, I nodded in approval.
What my grandmother said was absolutely true. There seems to be no free space left for the children to play. Let’s face this: Mumbai is an island that has been used and perhaps over-used beyond limits. The builders and the BMC just do not have a plan for the city’s infrastructure. Today there is only handful of playgrounds in Mumbai. The proliferation of buildings has left no open spaces for anyone to play.
The builders smartly allocated a space for a small landscaped garden with slides and swings for children. But that’s for the toddlers or a kindergarten child. Children grow off it by the age of nine or ten; what they need is a proper medium to channelize their excess of energy which they do not get. The residents of these new buildings are promised ample parking space but never are they promised ample playing space. Some may suggest that a membership in some clubs can ensure proper channelization of energy in children. But not every child can afford to seek membership in such clubs.
Parents and Health Experts lament that kids are growing obese because they eat loads of junk stuff and spend their time playing games on the computer. Can we blame the child? No. At least online world provides them with a feel of the real game, which the small lanes do not provide. No, I am not professing the idea of playing online games instead of playing on the field. What I am trying to point out is that it’s high time that the kids are given a medium to channelize their bottled-up energy through rough outdoor games before it becomes latent.