Edgar Mascarenhas

Integrating Sports and Education for a Brighter Future

Edgar Mascarenhas

Sports Director,

Don Bosco International

According to the PUMA-Nielsen Sports survey conducted by PUMA India and analytics firm Nielsen Sports, Indian kids spend a mere 86 minutes per week on sports and fitness-related activities, compared to the WHO-recommended 420 minutes or more. WHO recommends that children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 17 engage in at least 60 minutes of moderateto-vigorous intensity physical activity every day to prevent and manage chronic illnesses effectively. Such poor physical activity among kids is raising serious concerns about India’s future growth.
Nearly five years ago, PM Narendra Modi gave the mantra of Khelo India to inculcate team spirit, develop strategic & analytical thinking, leadership skills, goal setting, and risk-taking. Edgar Mascarenhas, a former international hockey player and a 15-year member of Air India hockey team as player & coach, is leading this effort. He plans to change the narrative through Don Bosco International School`s sports education.
TradeFlock interacted with Edgar to understand how he is taking small but prominent steps towards bringing about this change. 

Kindly describe your journey from being an international hockey player to a respected sports director and coach.

During my school days, I embraced sports and the valuable life lessons it offered. Representing India in prestigious tournaments, such as the 1990 World Cup, deepened my passion. As I transitioned from player to coach, I witnessed a gap in grassroots sports development. To address this, I founded E7 Fitness, imparting fundamental movement skills to children. Recognising the importance of fitness as a foundation for sports, I joined Don Bosco International School as a sports educator, integrating life skills and values. My goal is to revolutionise grassroots sports education, fostering well-rounded individuals for a healthier society. I actively collaborate with stakeholders and support government initiatives like Khelo India and the National Games. By integrating sports into education, I aim to nurture athletes and contribute to a brighter future for our nation.

What is your opinion on the current sports education system in India?

Approaching sports as an educational tool within schools yields tremendous power. No other subject possesses the capacity to effect profound change when implemented effectively. Sports have the remarkable ability to shape individuals and foster lifelong learners who embody open-mindedness, respect, and civic responsibility. It is through sports that character is built, making its integration into schools imperative. However, the challenge lies in the insufficient focus on grassroots programmes and a lack of coaches and advocates dedicated to this transformative vision. As sports educators, it is our responsibility to adapt, evolve, and propel this essential work forward. There is much yet to be accomplished, and the journey towards a truly impactful sports education system continues.

How does your experience as an international player influence your coaching approach and the lessons you teach to young students?

My experience as an international player has shaped my holistic coaching approach. I emphasise values such as discipline, focus, perseverance, responsibility, and teamwork, which I learned during my playing days. These life skills are interchangeable and can be applied not only in sports but also in various aspects of life. As a coach, I focus not just on excelling in sports but also on developing these essential life skills. By providing a strong platform for students, I enable them to excel in their chosen fields later in life. Sports education goes beyond producing great athletes; it is about characterbuilding and preparing students for any endeavour they choose.

What are the challenges you face in changing the perception of sports and encouraging its importance in society?

Changing the perception of sports and highlighting its importance in society is indeed a challenging task. While there has been a slight shift in recent years, more needs to be done. Many institutions still do not regard sports as a vital activity. The limited time allocated for sports in schools reflects this mindset. However, I have been working on changing this narrative by conducting seminars, meeting parents and educators, and engaging with people at all levels. I believe that by focusing on grassroots efforts and educating both students and educators, we can bring about positive change. The government’s initiatives, such as the Khelo India movement and the National Games, have also played a role in shifting the mindset. It’s an ongoing process, but the trend is slowly changing.

Do you think sports education in India is playing an important role in enabling a better ecosystem for athletes?

Education plays a crucial role in the world of sports. Rather than considering sports as a mere co-curricular or extracurricular activity, it should be viewed as a means of education itself. Sports education encompasses physical, mental, social, and emotional development. It helps in building character, instilling values, and teaching life skills that are relevant beyond the sports field. A sound educational background is indeed important for athletes as it provides a wellrounded foundation. Education equips athletes with the necessary knowledge, critical thinking abilities, and communication skills that can be applied to any field or profession. A holistic approach to education, integrating sports and academics, ensures that athletes not only excel in their sport but also grow as individuals.