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Sport has been a recurrent activity across the centres and is very popular among our young members. A recent Seva Mandir study showed that 76% of disengaged rural young people were interested in playing sports. The Youth Resource Centres (YRCs) offer sports equipment and also encourage young people to host competitions at the village level. YRCs have organised a number of events in badminton, volleyball and cricket and are moving towards professional coaching for members. We see this as a key tool in our twin objectives of encouraging young people to stay and play an active role in rural communities, but also ensuring that those who do leave for the cities are better prepared than they would otherwise be.

A major new project has introduced football, which, despite being new to the young people in the area, has attracted large numbers of both boys and

girls. Intensive training and village-level tournaments are organised with teams of both genders taking part. As well as developing sporting skills, the training has fostered self-confidence, trust, social network- and team-building. There are also efforts to revive and promote traditional sports such as Kho-Kho, Kabaddi, shot-put and archery.

Sport is an important means of engaging with young people, encouraging them to come together across boundaries of caste or religion, build teams and hone their interpersonal skills. Once the young people are drawn in, they are offered skills training and gender and sexual health discussions, as mentioned in the section on Youth Resource Centres.

The introduction of sport has been particularly significant for girls. Traditionally, girls in Rajasthan rarely play sport. Moreover, their traditional long skirts are not conducive to running around. But the enthusiasm that they and their parents have shown for football has been remarkable. The girls have been given appropriate sportswear (tracksuit trousers, polo shirts and shoes) and they have taken to the sport with delight. Their parents have come to support them in matches and expressed great pride in their daughters’ achievements.

This introduction to sport at a serious level also opens windows of opportunity as young people realise that they might go on to study sport or physical education at college, something they would never have thought of before.


Over 450 young people (43% of whom are girls) have taken part in football training organised by the YRCs and there has been increased participation of girls (both in sport and in other YRC activities) with more awareness of issues of sexual and reproductive health and rights being discussed.

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