What are the qualities of a sportsperson that a child can imbibe? Former international cricketer Ajit Agarkar and his educationist wife Fatima talk about parenting, sports and more. Read on.
By Team ParentCircle
He is a former international cricketer and she is an educationist of repute. Together, the Agarkars make a formidable pair. Parents to an almost-teenager, the Agarkars are comfortable and clear about their goals and plans. On National Sports Day, ParentCircle talks to the dashing Agarkar jodi on subjects close to their heart — cricket, education and of course, parenting. It’s a ParentCircle exclusive!
As a busy cricketer and now a cricket analyst who travels a lot, how do you bond with your family? How important is work-life balance?
Ajit: Well, it is not just a responsibility but indeed something that I look forward to, as family time has always been a priority — especially as I get very little of it. From watching television together or having a meal with the family to playing board games or sport; that is our way of connecting. Luckily, technology has made it possible to keep in touch. Also, we love to go on holidays often, that helps in bonding.
The last time you spoke to ParentCircle, your son was 10 years old and you said he was already acting like a 16-year-old! Are you facing teenage tantrums now?
Ajit: Well, he will soon be a teenager and like a typical middle-schooler, prefers to spend time in his room, connecting with friends, etc. We have seen him mature in many ways, become more patient and aware of his strengths and weaknesses. He constantly asks, 'what if I am not good at this or that? Or will I be able to manage?' As parents, we tell him to believe in himself and take life as it comes. We also advise him not to take things too seriously and enjoy his teenage years.
Has the father-son relationship also evolved?
Ajit: We have our moments! But yes, my childhood was very different from his. The world has changed even more in the past decade and we can see the sheer exposure and access his generation has. So, it is nice to learn a thing or two from him.
Do you think sports is important for the overall development of a child? Why?
Ajit: Sports creates a positive outlook and a healthier lifestyle. Sports teaches you all the life skills critical to being happy later in life. Sports must be a part of childhood.
Yours is an inter-faith marriage. What values, in terms of faith and religion, have you inculcated in your child?
Ajit: Our son is an Indian first, and that is most important for us. His faith in rituals and beliefs can be his own and he does not need to endorse our beliefs. We expose him to all faiths so that he develops his own value system. As parents, it is our goal to teach him to be respectful and tolerant of all faiths.
What values do you want your son to grow up with?
Ajit: Respect and tolerance, hard work and patience, and open-mindedness. These are some of the values we want our son to grow up with. Both Fatima and I are self-made. We are both hard-working people and life has taught us many lessons. We have learnt that every effort does not always translate into success; you should not lose heart because setbacks make you a stronger person.
Social media plays a huge role in our lives today. What is your approach to your son in terms of exposure to social media?
Fatima: Well, it is part of his world. Fortunately, the school our son goes to is very communicative and keeps a tab on social media use. We also ensure we are always there for him in case he wants to talk. We do not believe social media is dangerous if you can limit its use.
What is your take on children and gadgets? Do you limit gadget use for your son?
Ajith: To set rules for a middle-schooler is never easy. Of course, there are negotiations and disagreements, but these are part and parcel of growing up.
As a cricket analyst, is it challenging to analyse the skills of cricketers?
Ajit: It is a tough job, more so because I was part of that dressing room myself once. It is tough to take feedback when you are going through a bad patch. But we know that every player goes through good phase-bad phase cycles. It is tough for players and for someone like me, who has been in that situation before.
What do you think are the qualities of a champion?
Ajit: To be a champion, you need to have attitude, focus and the ability to adjust to the situation. Making timely decisions is crucial. Skill is also a given. Without skill, you cannot proceed after a point.
What is your advice for children who want to take up cricket as a career?
Ajit: Cricket is a tough game. Be prepared to work hard and learn to manage setbacks, disappointments and success, with equal ease.
What is your message to readers of ParentCircle?
Ajit: Enjoy your time with your children — accept their setbacks and challenges; ensure they view ups and downs as opportunities. No one is perfect and allow them to enjoy their childhood.
Fatima, you are a busy educationist. As a mother, how do you balance work and home?
Fatima: Over the years, you learn to manage everything and cope with difficulties. Some multitasking, a supportive family and also, sheer love for work and family, helps me balance it all.
What was your vision for your education venture? What are your future plans?
Fatima: Our vision is to help owners build more progressive schools and embrace 21st century learning. Our goal is to tell parents that the world has changed, stimulate students to aim higher, and equip teachers to cope with the changing times. We do everything from professional development and consultancy to student and parent workshops, school audits, curriculum design, etc. Our future plans include taking our enterprise overseas.
How important is formal education in a child's life?
Fatima: Schooling is important and critical, not just from an educational angle but to learn social skills too. The education system should focus on application-based learning and prepare children for success by teaching them life skills as well.
Is teacher training vital to improving the overall education system?
Fatima: It is the only way teachers can cope with a world that is evolving so fast that we cannot claim to know it all. We need to constantly upgrade.
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