It is a norm to see majority of the populace having their sights set on the picture of a very big and successful future without paying necessary attention to the processes which will culminate into those desired successes. A house cannot be built without the foundation. This is to say that the foundation serves as the basis upon which a structure can be constructed. The higher you want to build, the deeper and more solid the foundation ought to be.
It is an open secret that our sports performance in recent years has been nothing to write home about. Apart from football, the rest of the sporting disciplines have been basically cast into oblivion. What is the missing ingredient? How can other sporting disciplines be made attractive and productive just like football? This is where the subject deemed as surplus to requirements in most school settings comes into play; physical education.
The essence and effect of physical education is not well known and so it is very normal to see it being despised in most school settings. However, what we do not know is that the more physical education is relegated to the background, the more our rate of production of sports stars will suffer (Leonard, 1974).
The UNESCO Berlin World Sports Ministers Conference in 2013 declared physical education as “the most effective means of providing all children and youth with the skills, attitude, values, knowledge and understanding for life long participation in the society”. The primary concern of physical education is the organic development of individuals which can be developed solely by professionally trained physical educationists. The organic development of individuals includes muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility and body composition. The aforementioned traits are what culminates into the health related components of fitness. Physical educationists are trained to imbibe these characteristics into their students and such traits need to be developed earlier other than later in the life of an individual. It is only when these characteristics of fitness are fully developed in an individual that he or she can have a smooth transition into sports. N’Golo Kante’s seemingly tireless running throughout a football match keeps all of us gaping in awe. The reality is that such level of endurance cannot be developed overnight and hence the need for quality physical education at the basic level of education.
A crucial contribution of physical education is the introduction of a variety of games to children. Children need not be enticed by the luxurious lifestyle of popular sportsmen before they harness the desire of going into sports. Sports participation ought to rather be as a result of interest, with the rewards coming later. With physical education, children are introduced to a variety of games so that they can choose one for specialization. Specialization in games is what is termed as sports (Metheny, 1970). This is where other sporting disciplines can be made as valuable as football. However, if there are no qualified personnel to properly introduce children to other games, how will those games gain popularity amongst the children? Indeed, you never know what someone can do unless he or she is given the chance. Physical education gives everyone the chance to participate in games. From participation, talents will definitely be unearthed.
A grave contribution of physical education is the development of quality movement skills. These movement skills are termed as the fundamental motor skills. We have to be aware that sports is all about movement, thus quality movement is the basis for quality sports. Children must be properly taught how to move the whole body (locomotor skills), how to move body parts (non-locomotor skills) and how to move the body in relation to an object (manipulative skills) before they can proceed into sports.
For instance, during the leg action in running, the trunk has to be locked in a position about the hip. If this is not done, muscles used to work the leg movement will also be used to perform unwanted movement of the trunk. In running, the arms are used to balance the legs. The arms must be kept bent at the elbow joint with most of the movements, taking place at the shoulder girdle. These are just some of the basic skills needed in running. Unfortunately, such fundamental movement skills are not developed in most of our children and so when they step out to compete, they fail to be victorious.
In terms of training, physical educationists study about the human body through human anatomy and physiology and so they have first class knowledge on how to properly train people. Physical education also seeks to develop skills such as agility, power, balance, speed, coordination and reaction time in children. We will be doing our children more harm than good if such skills are not properly developed in them from childhood because, whiles their peers will be heading towards autonomous phase of skill acquisition when they get to adolescence, they will be lingering around the intermediate phase of skill acquisition.
The above reasons go a long way to emphasize on the extreme importance of physical education at the basic level of education. I therefore urge all stakeholders to pay critical attention to the state of physical education in our basic schools and aid in improving upon it so as to enable a smooth and strategic transition into sports which will at the long run have a profound effect on our current level of production of sports stars and at the end, transforming Mother Ghana into an unbeatable sports nation.