We all understand that sports build character and teaches important life skills that are important for every child. There is growing concern amongst most parents that lesser number of children are getting engaged in sports and physical activities. Continued urbanization, restricted space for playing, limited coaching options closer to home are major reasons for this. Also, with the current pandemic everyone is looking for options within their bio-bubble that is within their communities.
Shweta Singh, a mother of 9-year-old daughter, embarked on this journey after her own experience of bringing her daughter and her friends out to play and looking for right kind of coaches. She took a break from 11 years of corporate career and started the Get Out & Play India initiative that brings good quality, easily accessible sports activities closer to home (within gated residential societies) for every child including children with special needs. Shweta believes that sports have the power to change lives and can be a catalyst to build a strong and inclusive community.
Get Out & Play India is Pune based startup that brings good quality easily accessible sports activities for children within safety of their residential societies. This initiative was started by Shweta Singh in 2016, after her personal experience to bring quality, easily accessible sports facilities for her daughter closer to home.
Shweta has completed her Master degree in Business Administration and has prior experience in Strategy, Research, Business Development, Marketing and Sales functions. She has been a basketball and Rope Mallakhamb player.
“There was a time during our childhood when our moms literally dragged us back from playtime as we refused to come home. But my daughter and many other children of her age and older were happy staying home with play stations, television, and laptops. It was not their fault, we carried phone /iPad everywhere to restaurants, malls, trips to ensure she is “engaged”. Never realized when these had taken over our (and especially my child’s) lives,” Shweta says.
With a resolve to not let her daughter’s childhood be taken away from her, Shweta decided in the summer of 2016 to engage her daughter elsewhere. She started by enrolling her in a summer camp which covered mostly art activities.
While looking for more options Shweta realized that most of the summer camps were around singing, art, soft skills, etc. There was not enough space at these institutes to leverage sports activities. As for sports academies, most of them had only 10 – 15 days camp of 1 hour every day. 1 hour commuting time, with only one-hour activity for such a brief duration, did not seem to be attractive enough to keep a child engaged. Not to mention their focus on only one sport/ activity at an exorbitant price.
So, she dug deeper to see if anyone… anyone for that matter had taken such initiative, near or far. After all, every third parent seems to be facing this issue – lack of proper physical activities for their child closer to home in safe surroundings. Shweta thought it would be simple but to her surprise, she did not have many options.
Soon she realized that no one wants to take the responsibility and accountability. Anything related to children needed more than address aggregators and no one was ready to take that extra step. So, 90% of children remained at home during vacation while only a few attended sports institutes.
“The answer was just around us. We had resources – every society has enough space to develop sufficient infrastructure for basic sports activities, extremely safe as it is within the comfort of home and within the vigilance of guardians, several trained coaches who can be efficiently channelized to deliver best results and a bunch of passionate volunteers (mostly parents) who would not mind spending 2 hours a week for the cause. It was only a matter of bringing them all together,” Shweta says.
That is what Get Out & Play India (GOAPI) did in the summer of 2017! The concept is simple. GOAPI introduced children to several activities within their society premises during 30 to 40 days with 2hrs (or more) each day.
GOAPI focuses on children between the age bracket of 4 to 16 years. Research shows that 7 out of 10 children drop out from any form of sports activity by age 10. The reasons range from lack of interest, inability to match expectations, access to video games and television, however the most prominent reason is Not Having Fun.
15-20 years back 95% of children just played sports for fun and did not want to pursue sports professionally. Get Out & Play India (GOAPI) focuses on this 95% and we want to ensure children in this lot get back to playing just to enjoy the game. GOAPI firmly believe that engagement in sports activities today will help develop healthier and better citizens of tomorrow.
Today 30%+ of GOAPI coaches are working professionals from Banking, IT, Services Sector and freelancing in their spare time. GOAPI team of coaches undergo mandatory orientation focusing on communication with children, sensory basis of learning and adaptive sports that sensitizes them about needs and requirement of every child. Therefore, moving the focus from churning out best talent to the needs of the child.
GOAPI platform allows avid sports enthusiasts – corporates, students as well as PE and fitness trainers to follow their passion for sports while coaching children.
Currently, with this vision GOAPI is now spread across several communities/townships spread across 12 locations in Pune (NIBM, Aundh, Wakad, Hadapsar, Mundhwa, Wanowrie and counting,) have a team of 95+ coaches and very accomplished group of advisors from Child Counseling, Disability and Inclusion sector and Women in Sports leaders impacting several children at grassroot level. Additionally, Get Out & Play India’s flagship program VEERA is aimed at engaging girls (of all age group) into active sports.
“We wish to make a special mention about our VEERA program – sports for girls. Most girls leave sports as they hit adolescence, our program motivates them to start playing again,” Shweta says.
During lockdown GOAPI initiated the online Happiness Express – online fun games evenings. A social initiative to spread fun, laughter and cheer through these stressful times. Till date the initiative has welcomed aboard 450+ smiles – Children, School Teachers, Corporates, Youth and Covid warriors. The funds raised were used towards covid relief. Going forward GOAPI wish to use this towards raising funds for a VEERA project for under-privileged children.
Visit GOAPI Website –