Finding Joy and Community Through Playing Sports

Seeing kids moving about with playful mischief and bursts of energy might take you back to those days when you were always (and only) looking forward to your time for playing sports – to hit the ball into orange skies (or sometimes the neighbour’s window)!

It brings you a sense of joy and a familiar warmth that once engulfed you in its soulful embrace. It reminds you of a time when you and I were those kids.

The thrill might not have gone but growing up, the time and effort spent towards playing definitely waned, or rather, fell into the black hole of inexistence.

And the memories were there only to take you back, keep you reminiscing about the past. For most of us, it was okay to let that feeling live in our memories. 

But not for this guy!

For IT professional Mourya from Hyderabad, a life without playing just didn’t make sense. As a very active child who had to be dragged back home (every single night!) from the grounds, the thought of it all changing as one grows up didn’t fit into his idea of living.

Mourya’s memory of his student days, from kindergarten through college, are all of him on the ground! Sweating it out while living in the moment and having loads of fun.

“We used to go play on open grounds, where there will be lots of people playing different games in different parts, all at the same time,” he tells enthusiastically before he starts laughing, “Sometimes you end up hitting others’ balls.”

However, when he moved to Bangalore, the inevitable fate of adulthood started creeping up on him too.

All of a sudden, Mourya, who always found himself playing sports, wasn’t playing at all!

Not because he was procrastinating his play time and not because he couldn’t find the energy to play either.

Mourya is someone who’s always ever-so-ready to get in on some sports action! But he felt the city wasn’t. 

“Everywhere I look, there’s a building,” he says while explaining how open playgrounds were his go-to option in Hyderabad as they were in abundance. “During the weekends, I’d go around looking for open grounds for playing sports.

“I found grounds, but I couldn’t find any players.”

For working professionals to not find any time, energy or the motivation to play is so common that no one would even compel them to play. 

Friends who did give their confirmation would even bail out on the plans. So without players and no consistent access to a common ground, Mourya kept wandering the suburbs of Bangalore.

That’s when he noticed something – people coming out of sheds in sportswear carrying racquets. Being the one who always initiates the first moves, Mourya asked one of these people coming out in sports attire about what’s going on inside the sheds. 

Upon being invited in, he witnessed shuttlecocks being volleyed back and forth, people fully engaged in their ongoing rallies, and the resonating sound of the racquets striking the shuttlecocks across the court.

He saw people playing – a sight that he’d been striving to find, a feeling that he’d been actively trying to attain!

“That’s when I heard about Playo, and I never looked back,” he says with a wide smile that brings forth his boyish delight of getting to play.

But it isn’t just about playing!

“I’ve met people through playo that I otherwise wouldn’t meet,” he substantiates this claim by telling the names of several CEOs, VPs and other hotshots that are in his contact list. 

It also sets up his routine too. When he knows he has a game in the morning on a weekday, he is also preparing for the office. 

“Just like how a workout feels, you feel great after a morning game. Your schedule starts falling in place and you become someone who is active, a go-getter. Someone who the world perceives as an occupied person,” he explains with overwhelming gratitude towards playing. 

Yet with a humble tone he continues, “These are not life changing things, but these should be a part of everyone’s life. And sports help me achieve that.”

He goes on to talk about how playing everyday helps him keep fit without having to go to the gym. “To be very honest, I do like attention, especially when it’s from being good at something. Gym is not a place where I get that. On the field, I get to see if I can win. If I don’t, I get to learn a thing or two about technique. You can’t get that from hitting the gym.” 

But above all, a person who plays and keeps active gives off a better impression than someone who does not. “Playing sports earns you a kind of respect, that you might even inspire your friends and family to hit the ground too,” he says gazing into the expanse of leaves and branches between him and the bustling road ahead. 

When we were done with Mourya’s interview for #HumansOfPlayo, he thanked me and the others at the office right before he looked at his watch. 

“I wish I could spend more time here, but I have a game to get to!” he says as he zooms off with the same delight that most of us once had in our childhood, when the sun had just mellowed down enough for us to go out and hit a few sixxers. 

Also read: Ramesh’s Entourage – The Badminton Group That Never Fails to Inspire

Pratheek Suryadev