When sports is more than about sports

Despite its massive population that is second only to China, India has achieved very modest success in international athletics. This documentary from Al Jazeera looks at a program that seeks to identify promising young athletes in remote tribal areas and then groom them for success at the national and international levels. The documentary focuses on two of them Ravikaran and Nayana. Usain Bolt has been the inspiration for them.

But it is more than about athletics. The success of young people brings about larger changes in their communities. Ravikaran is from a small community known as Siddis who are believed to be descended from slaves from Africa brought to India by the Portuguese, something I had not known about before. They suffer from the same racial and color prejudice that the US is familiar with.

Nayana is from a different community that is also underprivileged. Her success (she was selected to attend an elite coaching program in the US) has opened the eyes of her traditional-minded community and made them realize that girls should have equal access to education and athletics.


  1. Silentbob says

    @ ^

    This is completely peripheral. It’s as though Mano blogged about a program to give indigenous people access to schooling and your response is, “but here’s a story about a school in a different country that beat their students”. Not relevant.

  2. lanir says

    I’ll have to watch the vid later.

    I’m not usually into sports, to be honest. I mean, we still have school football teams and boxing hasn’t completely fizzled out. And using baseball as an example, even making it into something as exclusive as the minor leagues doesn’t pay very well. So sports in general definitely doesn’t seem to be focused on providing opportunities for athletes.

    Subverting that general trend though? That’s interesting.

  3. seachange says

    Cool video! I was surprised to see the word ‘finish’ at the finish line. I shouldn’t have been because earlier in the video they were talking about how English is a more universal language they were teaching the students.

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