The Role Of School Teachers In Creating Champions- A Talk By Tarun Sardesai

The Role Of School Teachers In Creating Champions
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They looked at me and said, “remember, nothing is impossible”. At that point, a phone call was made, and in 45 minutes there was a solution. I knew I had persuaded Mr. Mahesh Rao to come out of retirement and start an education model for sports persons in the country. It’s been great these last 6 years. As a coach and as the best golf academy in India we have produced a lot of champions, and I believe the PROSE education system has been a big part of that. The best thing is that I don’t have to worry about education when my students are in your hands. That is a big thing for us

All of us here believe that sport itself is education. What does that mean? One of the most important things I want you teachers to take from this is that sport teaches players how to fail. And I think as teachers, you need to embrace that in the way you teach. Because the regular education system today is all about succeeding which means getting 85%, 90%, right? But some of the brightest minds have come out of school as dropouts or with much lower grades. Grades do not define or determine success. A sports person may or may not excel academically as much as someone who is not into sports because their mind is always somewhere else. So your responsibility is huge. If I look back at my life in boarding school, I remember my teachers because they were my biggest influencers. I recall my headmaster, someone who was very strict but also inspiring as a human being. He used to say, “you can do whatever you want, but don’t get caught. If you end up in my office, I’ll give you trouble”. He was a math teacher, and I remember one night at 9 p.m., I went to him with a doubt in my textbook. He was busy doing something in his office, and he said, “I don’t have time. Just leave the book here, I’ll see what I can do”. I was upset because I had my board exams coming up, so I left the book at his office and went back to my dormitory. The next morning when I entered the classroom, the entire problem was solved on the blackboard, and my textbook was there. I thought, “if I have any more questions, I can go back to him”. It was brilliant. Those kinds of things make a difference in a child’s life. I will never forget that teacher, and I will never forget my sports teacher either. You know, I was the smallest kid on the football team and the cricket team, but he always made me feel like I was a big player. So you teachers also need to understand how powerful you are. You have a lot of influence over these children. I know many of the kids who come into your classroom are distracted because their minds are elsewhere. 

How many of you play sports? Let’s find out. The reason I ask is that when a student knows that his or her teacher is interested in the sport they play, there is a connection. I remember my football coach coming to the cricket ground, watching me play, or coming to my dormitory and saying, “what are you doing? Come on, let’s go and have a kickabout”. Those kinds of things matter. So I urge all of you to create a positive atmosphere in your classrooms, where the kids feel like they can come to you with anything, not just academic problems, even personal issues. And I know some of you do that already, so congratulations. But if you’re not, I urge you to try and connect with your students more. Understand what they are going through. Try to understand that they have a lot of pressure on them as well. Like I mentioned earlier, some of the kids are distracted because they have sports on their minds, and it’s your job to try and get them back on track. So I think we have a huge responsibility as teachers to understand what is going on in their lives. Let’s not just be teachers, but let’s be mentors. Let’s be motivators.

I know the coaches are going to get them motivated to play, but it’s your job to get them motivated to study as well. How many of you remember getting up in the morning, and not wanting to go to school? All of you? There you go. I hated it as well, especially when I had a football match in the evening, because then I had to go to school with my uniform and then get changed later. You need to understand that. You need to understand the kind of pressure they are going through. And you know, as students, when you have a coach or a teacher telling you, ‘Hey, I know you played a match yesterday. How was it?’ It makes a big difference. So let’s be more understanding”.

Let’s try to connect with them. Let’s be mentors and motivators. And last but not least, gratitude and humility. I believe these are the two of the most important things in life. You can be an awesome player when you are in the best golf academy in India but if they don’t have gratitude and humility, they are nothing. I think it is very important to teach our kids these two things. Teach them to be grateful for what they have, to be humble in victory, and humble in defeat. These are the two qualities that are going to take them a long way. It’s easy to forget that, but I believe it is our job as teachers to remind them of that every single day. So, let’s go out there, let’s create champions, let’s create good human beings, and let’s be the best teachers we can be. Thank you”.

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