India sports icons Virat Kohli and Sunil Chhetri came together for the ‘Let There Be Sport’ Conclave in Bengaluru on Friday. The notable line-up voiced the growing need to prioritise sports and fitness at a mass level and integrating it as a relevant subject in the main curriculum of educational institutions for the development of the country.
Moderated by Abhishek Ganguly, Managing Director of PUMA India and Southeast Asia, the Conclave witnessed two fireside chats with cricketer Kohli and footballer Chhetri, on Friday.
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During the chat, Kohli and Chhetri went down memory lane and dug out inspiring tales from their individual sporting journeys that will stand as bright beacons for those who want to add sports and fitness as a part of their daily life.
Kohli, an inspiration for millions with his strong work ethic, discipline and passion for fitness, stated the central need for kids and adults of the country to adopt a strong sports culture in order to succeed in life.
“Sports and fitness has always been an integral part of my life and my career as a cricketer has positively shaped my personality and emotional wellbeing. I am happy to be a part of PUMA’s Let There Be Sport Conclave. We are confident that our journeys as sports professionals shared today on this platform will inspire the nation to make fitness a way of life. We have taken a long-term pledge to actively create more opportunities to deeply engage with people, underline the importance of a thriving sports culture and find ways to contribute towards developing a fitter India," Kohli said.
Like thousands of youngsters in the country, Kohli at the conclave was asked to address his preference as a kid— studies or sports?
“I was pretty decent at studies, except for maths. I just couldn’t understand maths. I’m scared. How am I gonna teach anything to my daughter? She asked me some questions and that really scares me. I didn’t have enough time to do maths. But when I focused on it, I was pretty good. So, I never had trouble at school, never bunked classes," said Kohli while taking a quick trip down the memory lane.
Kohli and Chhetri said there’s a need to drive a fundamental shift in the country’s perception and commitment towards adoption of sports and fitness culture.
Indian football team captain Chhetri emphasised the value of sports and fitness in the development of one’s character, nature and emotional wellbeing.
“India is a huge country and holds limitless potential to become a global sporting superpower. However, for that to happen we need to promote participation in sports and fitness right from the grassroots level by treating it as an essential habit of day-to-day life instead of narrowing it down to a hobby. Sports impacts millions of people all over the world in a powerful way and is capable of positively influencing one’s attitude. I urge everyone to make playing and exercising a part of their daily life," said Chhetri, India’s most capped footballer.
At the Conclave, PUMA also streamed its latest 90-second digital film as part of the #LetThereBeSport campaign. The film features Kohli, Sunil Chhetri, Mary Kom, Avani Lekhara and Bhawani Devi, and everyday athletes, capturing the need to take sport beyond the realm of an extra-curricular activity.
“Sports is a pivotal part of growth, be it for good physical and mental health, or to provide people with valuable life lessons. Only sport holds the power to transcend social, economic, and gender barriers to unite people on a single platform. So, it is about time that we stop viewing it as an extra-curricular activity and motivate people to start valuing it as a critical life skill which is extremely crucial for the growth of our nation," Ganguly said during the conclave organised by PUMA.
He added, “Through the #LetThereBeSport initiative, we aim to develop an ecosystem at the grassroots level that prioritises fitness and motivates people to take up sports and physical activities."
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