92 gold medals earned on Mauritian playing fields! ’94’ gold medals, including 2 for setting world records in hypertension and cardiovascular diseases!

Dr. Anand D Awootar PhD D.Litt,
Chairperson, Education Commission, Mouvement Patriotique

Kudos to our Mauritian athletes! Through your long hours of grunt work, through the calibre of your muscles and nerves, through your maturity forged by the white heat of contest embedded with talents, poise and performance, radiates a tangible feeling of bliss worth capturing for posterity. Indeed, you have shown through your physical prowess and calculated strategies, your ability to perform with panache to the extent of making all island states competitors weep with envy.

You are our national heroes!

You have earned the enviable privilege, in several decades to come, to be able to sit on your pendulous rocking chair, with your silvery-grey hair, to repeat with nostalgia and sweet remembrance, for the umpteenth times, tales of your youthful prowess and charm, peacefully nodding your way into Morpheus’ arms. Those were the days, you will recall, when you confidently braced for the race, with spotlight on your face and history at your pace. When you were rubbed raw by endless training hours you spent on and on to rehearse. When, garlanded by beads of sweat, you blended discipline, desire and drive, the honour of your Country to defend.
You are the undisputed role models for our new generation who, unfortunately, has yet to be persuaded that meaningful years are added to life and exciting life to remaining years through regular healthy physical activities.
92 gold medals earned on Mauritian playing fields! 94 gold medals, including 2 for setting world records in hypertension and cardiovascular diseases!
Many, however, are of the view that medals are but an illusive fleeting bubble, with records regularly set and broken. Athletic victory is fickle, always pursued and never eternally captured. But the frailty of our youngsters’ health status is here to stay with all its disastrous medical, mental, economic, social and aesthetic impact in the absence of any urgent corrective measures.
We need not always agree on the answer, but we may agree on the following question: are we able to evaluate the moral value of 92 tantalising gold-coloured cakes infested with germs and flies? Of our children with chins in quadruplicity, knees to ankles rolling in mass of fat, waddling blithely in search of fast foods? Of unfettered social media and video games, providing as much instant gratification and risk as fast foods to children hailing from highly pampering and over-protective families, with life thriving on a cacophony of laissez-faire practices?
What lies beyond the dead may be deadlier. The sight of a sizeable percentage of our children, pot-bellied, be-spectacled, round-shouldered, enslaved to social media and computer games is fast becoming the new norm. Lack of proper parental control, adverse peer influences and ill-spent leisure time encourage youngsters to indulge in passive amusements which provide instant gratification: tobacco, alcohol, drugs and other anti-social practices become the rocks on which they get wrecked.

Ah, les fidèles spectateurs!

Unfortunately, for want of planned, exciting, stimulating and challenging bodily activities, youngsters are indirectly being groomed to become but bench-warming, chest-beating, foot-thumping spectators who ritually shout themselves hoarse from the bleachers. They end up in the grip of a lesser-known deadly disease: Spectatoritis – the direct consequence of a policy bent upon creaming off the top at the expense of the bottom – Ah, les fidèles spectateurs!
Many of our political leaders seem too busy peddling honey-laced visions of a perfect society while singing, canary-like, the praise of our rainbow nation. Quite a few of our Ministers of Youth and Sports who, at the time of appointment, had difficulty distinguishing between a javelin and a fishing rod. Even today, for various reasons, the focus veers essentially towards sports, with only lip service reserved to the Youth Section of the Ministry. Similarly, successive Ministers of Education have been more comfortable watching students with trudging gait, crushed under their satchels’ weight. A higher national percentage of pass supposedly adds to Ministers’ fleeting aura.
Incidentally, the majority of our educational institutions being bereft of even an apology of a gymnasium speaks loudly of our Country’s priorities.
In the present context, it would be highly desirable of our Minister of Education and that of Youth and Sports, away from the spotlight of the camera, to implement a meaningful, forward-looking, concerted programme for the benefit of our students. It should be an interesting, exciting, challenging and healthy programme whereby students develop the joy, ecstasy and exuberance of meaningful experiences into adulthood.

Less than 8 percent…

The situation is all the more pressing since only less than 8 percent of the entire population were inclined to take full advantage of the various public sports complexes, as per a national survey conducted by the Department of Movement and Physical Education of the MIE at the dawn of this century. Additionally, it was found that 65 to 70 percent of our overall students were physically illiterate, being embarrassingly deficient in movement vocabulary components, namely coordination, flexibility, agility, accuracy, balance, muscular strength, muscular power and endurance which are all vital ingredients for a meaningful, effective and graceful performance.

Clearly, dazzling sports events with glittering medals cannot by themselves raise the physical condition, fitness and health status of the population.
Like the Roman deity Janus, we need to look simultaneously at the past and the future in order to comprehend the gravity of the situation for it is not always what we don’t know that gets us into trouble, but what we wrongly assume we know that causes problems. 
Congratulations athletes! Let’s relish our victory!