It was the final of girls’ football played between Gonpasingma Lower Secondary School (LSS) and Nangkor Higher Secondary School (HSS) on May 20. Every time the ball made it to the Nangkor half of the pitch, supporters from Gonpasingma School rose to high-pitched cries for a goal. The excitement of ball crossing over to the other half is obviously a reason for encouragement for the supporters because it is mostly played in one-half of the pitch.
The girls from Gonpasingma endured waves of attack from much stronger built and better skilled girls of Nangkor. The team managed to keep clear of a goal until half-time, but ultimately they concede two goals.
This is a typical school sports meet in Pemagatshel. Among the spectators, even some of the teachers of the host school, Nangkor, felt that the sports meet of this kind lacked a level playing field because much younger students from a lower secondary school are pitched against older ones from a higher secondary school on equal terms.
“The outcome of such a match is a foregone conclusion and this makes the sports meet between children of different age groups, build and skill a real mismatch and unfair. This demoralizes those who lose,” said Tempa Wangchuk, a teacher of Nangkor HSS.
As expected, Pemagatshel MSS and Nangkor HSS dominated in almost all the ball and athletic matches. Five schools participated in the event at Nangkor HSS.
“We have been talking of this disparity for the last couple of years but it has remained the same for budgetary reasons,” said SurenPradhan, the principal of Gonpasingma LSS. “We have now stopped making noise.”
He said this year his school stood third in the overall wins but that was because Nganglam HSS did not participate in the sports meet. “Despite securing third position, we are way behind on the winners’ tally,” the principal said.
KunzangChophel, another teacher of Nangkor HSS, said the sports meet could have been organized between MSS and HSS in one category and LSS and CPS in another to create a more level playing field.
This, they said, is important if the objectives of such sports meets are to encourage students in sports and to identify potentially good ones who could find a career in sports. The teachers also said that physical mismatch can also lead to injury in contact sports.
The teachers said there are abundant talents in children. They said some children show a lot of talent but due to lack of serious will to develop them professionally, their talents go to waste. Lack of professional enhancement in sport, they added, is also a reason why children take it as a mere hobby.
A young girl from Shumar LSS said all her school achieved in the sports meet was a runners-up trophy in a game ball. “There is no way we can come even close to a HSS or an MSS,” she said.
“It is just to fulfill the formality that we are participating in the tournament and this gives us no reason to look forward to this annual event with much expectations or zest,” she said.
Suren Pradhan said if the objectives of any competition are to identify talents, the emphasis must be given to children from lower classes whose extraordinary talents must be honed by professional training so that they can represent the country one day. “The same applies to academic excellence. There could be computer whiz-kids in remote schools but they lack facilities,” he added.