Tuesday, 6 February 2018


Recently, I was watching some old episodes of the daily soap Modern Family. In one of them, the American step-father of a Columbian 10 years old boy makes a lot of effort to drive his son to playing football. He even manages to chat with the other fathers who are half his age and more techno-savvy. But still the son manages to keep away from anything that's got to do with games. It is only when the son gets a date with a sporty girl does he actually touch the football. In my opinion a better option would have been to show him some of the cool Hollywood/Bollywood movies to get him started! Once in a while the big screen, popcorn and your own age kids changing into real life heroes has more impact on kids' minds and hearts and motivates them to take up something new. I know how my 5 years old daughter picked up playing chess after watching a movie about the Katwe champion. So here's my list of 06 best sports movies for children that would definitely motivate them to take a run in the ground:

1. Escape to Victory: I start with this one war movie which also turns out to be one of my favourite out of the 06 best sports movies for children.
What is it all about?:This movie starring Sylvester Stallone and many other real footballers including Pele revolves around officers and soldiers held as war prisoners' at a German prisoners' camp .The prisoners get an opportunity to make a Football team and play against the German football team. While the whole event is just an alibi to set free some of the prisoners, the team ends up playing the whole game and running off from the venue with the help of  the agitated yet jubilant spectators. Some of the best scenes are definitely the ones where the team members practice together and sacrifice their physical health and aspirations for the team. And to add on to the humour of the story, we have the subtle differences between the way of life and sports between Americans and the British people shown through Stallone's understanding of Football and its rules.

What children will love to watch: The way the prisoners keep trying to escape from the camp and the way they all play the sport in a fair way. Although the German team and the referee leave no stone turned to win the game, we find that the German officer in-charge of the prison supporting them when they score. The prisoners who are true players do not resort to any thing else but pure sportsmanship till the end and Lady Luck favours them. And of course, the one who contributes the most in the game: none other than Pele: the legendary Brazilian. Of course one of the 06 best sports movies for children will definitely revolve around the icon player of the century.

2. Chak de: A very fine Bollywood blockbuster which will remain so for some time in the history of  Indian cinema.

What is it all about?:This is the story of Indian women's hockey team, its selection, its formation
and final moments of victory. The narrative shows a glimpse of everything to which any Indian sportsman will associate him/herself with: the melodrama of dressing rooms, the inter-state players' rivalries, bullying of senior players, personal aspirations of individual players, contribution of coaches, politics of members of sports associations/federations and  the hype created by media and paparazzi. The movie brought pride and popularity to the National game of India: Hockey. This is one of the rarest Bollywood movies which has not only a very effective narrative but also tells about all the possible facets of the game. For a change, it really makes hockey, much more interesting and challenging than cricket in India. And as usual, the best part remains to be the ever-fighting sportsman spirit of the woman players and their coach.

What children will love to watch: One of the best  Indian movies any foreigner needs to watch to understand and enjoy the light-hearted humour created by the clash of different ideologies prevailing in the land such as the ever-ready Punjabis, the tribals from Jharkhand, all South Indians being covered under one blanket term by the North Indians as the Madrasis, the 'hot chicks' of North East and the best the sophistication of Chandigarh over the bum Jatts from Haryana. It is all available along with none other the Badshah Khan: Shah Rukh Khan as the gunda (goon) called coach of the team. A must watch for any and every child who wants to learn about India and its national sport.

3. Queen of Katwe:

What is it all about?A short yet very impressive depiction of how bumpy is the ride of a young genius chess sports star. This Disney production directed by Mira Nair is one of the best sports movies based on the life of a young girl from a poor African Third World country. Fiona is one of the many children of a young Ugandan widow who sells corn to make a living. Fiona, along with her brother start to play chess at a community play house just because of the porridge they are given by the coach. Gradually, the coach realises the innate talent of the children and takes them to contest some chess competitions in and around their city. The journey of the young girl is full of physical and mental struggles that she undergoes along with her family. The final outcome is enriching for her, the coach, her family and for all of us viewers too.

What children will love to watch: Another excellent movie especially worth watching for children from affluent families to make them understand how a sport can be so uniting and powerful that it changes the lives of those who play it.   Children learn the game of chess and here they come to know how age doesn't matter if you love anything, you can excel it at whatever age you want. Out of the 06 best sports movies for children this one doesn't actually help parents to drive their children to the court/ outdoor games but it does succeed to show them what journey lies ahead for any sportsman. And that too in a very impressive way. One more thing that children would love here is the songs and dances at the end of the movie.

4. Dangal: 

What is it all about?How do I talk about this perfectly portrayed movie based on real-life characters! This recent Amir Khan starrer is a family blockbuster which talks about the struggle of a father with four daughters for representing his country in a national competition and winning a Gold medal. A national wrestler who couldn't continue his career in sports decides to make his son do so in the field of wrestling. Unfortunately, the man is blessed with not a single son but four daughters. Through freak stroke of luck he realises that his daughter's have a natural talent for the sport and he starts training them to play the game. But being a male-dominated society and sport, he has to face a lot of nonsense from all, including his wife and daughters. Gradually the girls do start winning in national and international events. But this journey is not an easy one as they fight with and against each other as well as the world. Out of the 06 best sports movies for children, this one has also been a major blockbuster doing lot of good business commercially for itself.

What children will love to watch: One eyeopener about the real male-domination prevalent in many parts of India. The movie seemed to be a positive way to echo every parents submission to their children: we are a team. We fight together not against each other!

5.Pele:The birth of a legend: If at all there would a comparison between the biopics/movies based on the lives of sports persons, this one would definitely be on top. This movie is appropriate for young viewers, elders, mothers and grandparents too. In fact this is one sports movie just like the Bollywood blockbuster mentioned above which should be seen by everyone in the family together.
One movie which tells children about how a sport is not only about a person, a team, a club or a  franchise but it can also be about a race, a community and more importantly about a country and its ethos!

What is it all about?The movie tells us how the football guru Pele had a very common life like any other poor kid living in the slums of Brazil. But what was uncommon about the boy was the way he understood his roots and denied to live by any thing other than those same old roots. The movie is legendary not only because of the legendary man it talks about but also because of the celebration of this legendary figure's roots in the traditional dance called Zenga.

What children will love to watch: Did you hear about a person who was declared as a national asset? Well Pele was one, that's why he is nothing less than a legend himself.  My daughter always loves the fast paced scenes where the young Pele and his friends are playing 'gully-football' and when his father tries to teach him to bounce back the mangoes! Imagine practising football with ripe mangoes without breaking them! They get to see it here. That unique but real ways of life makes it a really worthwhile movie to be included in my list of 06 best sports movies for children. Although this is again a purely sports based movie and tells us the story of a sportsperson, there are many layers of meaning one can find to tell to our children. The best my daughter found are: 1. All children are different and so they need to be loved for their differences. 2. Respect your old traditions: they can be helpful when you play on ground 3.Sports can be a better way of life than stealing/doing drugs. 4. Leaders can change their teams' destinies.

6. Iqbal: Another best Indian sport movie especially suitable for children all over the world.

What is it all about?Iqbal is the story of a young dumb and deaf boy with the same name, his sister and mother's struggle to make his dream come true. The boy dreams to be a member of the national cricket team. But his father, a poor farmer doesn't share his dream and wants Iqbal to help him on the farm. His sister and mother come to know about a drunkard from their village who had been a cricket player from yesteryear. They succeed in making him help Iqbal to learn the sport better. But while they are doing so, the personal rivalries and aspirations of another business man's son come in their way. Finally, he does get acclaimed by his big time hero: Kapil Dev, who also happens to be one of the national selectors. The complete cast and crew of Iqbal needs to be applauded for this brilliant masterpiece.

What children will love to watch: The movie shows how logically and peacefully the physically challenged hero turns out to be a messiah for his family and the team he represents. I saved this one for the last as this one speaks about the unique bond between two siblings who share the love of sport. Both of them love the sport so much that they have named their cattle after the members of Indian cricket team. The story is an example of how one can overcome all obstacles if you have the right will! That's why this one turns out to be my favourite out of the 06 best sports movies for children.

 I know I am being too optimistic in saying that we can use movies to drive the children out of the TV rooms to spend sometime in the open air playing a game they would love in future. But I think that's what's the best thing about parenting, it gives you immense power to believe and do what is the best for your children. There will be many parents who would say why go through all this fuss, just take them to the ground in the evening and let the ball do everything. I wish it could be so simple with our complicated modern lifestyles where the only open space that children find is parking lots and the only time that parents spend with their children is in shopping malls. So think about it and do whatever best you can. But, do try one of these movies out of my 06 best sports movies for children. They are worth the time and effort otherwise too. Yes some of you might feel the list doesn't do justice to many of the other movies which would also be suitable for children. Let's say: I am saving them for my next one! And be happy with this one!

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