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IDSDP: Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA)
Author: Ernest Abhishek Paul Post Dated: 6th April 2021
The goal of Sport for Development (S4D) programmes is to use sport as a tool for development and the development of individuals being the desired outcome. It is essential to empirically test the outcomes to chart out the progress of the programs towards the set goals. Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA), a sport for development initiative based out of Anantapur in Rural India, is using various Monitoring and Evaluation methods to test the efficiency of the program and its impact on the children in rural India.
Established in the year 2000, currently, ASA delivers programmes in the seven sporting disciplines of hockey, football, cricket, judo, tennis, softball and kabaddi, through over 96 grassroots centres, 3 development centres and elite youth programs across the Anantapur district. During the year 2019-20, the program engaged 6,867 (2628 girls, 4239 boys) children and youth. ASA operates the programme through three avenues: Grassroot Program, Development Centres and elite youth programs situated in Anantapur Sports Village (ASV).
Starting right from the grassroots in remote villages, going all the way up to the residential elite youth academy in ASV, the programmes are designed and executed to aid in the holistic development of children and youth, to offer equitable opportunities to both girls and boys and eventually to enhance their employment opportunities. The program further supports the rural ambitious and talented children to succeed at higher levels in sport.
Anantapur Sports Academy has been using various tools to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the program, the first step is ensuring the effective delivery of curriculum by grassroots coaches. The monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews of coaches help track the progress of the program delivery at the grassroots at the same time help solve the issues related to program delivery. At every stage of the program, monthly reviews are regularly conducted to help staff achieve their short-term and long-term goals and work towards realising the vision of the program, which is to leverage the power of sport for the holistic development of underprivileged and marginalised children and youth in rural Anantapur.
The impact of the program is measured both qualitatively and quantitatively by various means. ASA conducts and publishes in-depth case studies of individuals in the program to understand the core social, economic and cultural issues the children face in the society and how the program is aiding them to overcome the problems. Case studies have been effective in qualitatively measuring and communicating the impact of the program on children from marginalized backgrounds in the Anantapur District to our internal and external stakeholders.
Despite the program being run for nearly two decades, ASA strongly believes that the lack of evidence to understand the impact of sports on the holistic development of children proves to be a challenge in redesigning and redeveloping the programs according to the changing demands of the communities. This drive led to a collaboration with Pro Sport Development in 2018 which resulted in conducting a study to determine the impact of organized sports on rural children and youth. This study tried to empirically explore the impact of sports on the physical, emotional and social development of children between 10-15 years in rural India.
The study required the children participating in the ASA grassroots program to answer a questionnaire along with participating in physical tests designed to ascertain the impact. On April 6th, 2019 ASA joined the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) celebrations by publishing the first report titled “Impact of Sport in Rural India” of the data collected, followed by the “Impact of Sport in Rural India 2.0” report in June 2020 on the eve of the International Olympic Day.
ASA believes that the impact study presents the opportunities to work in the areas which need attention and intervention, while the research helps S4D programs including ASA to understand the impact and explore the possibilities to expand the curriculum and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs.
Communicating the impact of sport is essential, especially in India where the sport is more or less reduced to just a physical activity. It is important to change the attitudes of communities towards sport. ASA uses Behavioural Change Communication (BCC), and Information Education and Communication (IEC) to educate and influence the attitudes of individuals and communities towards sport. Through various social media platforms, ASA tries to inform and educate audiences about the impact of sport on the well being and holistic development of children, by creating and disseminating communications collaterals that highlight the success stories of the children and statistical facts from research.