School Stories: Sports Day

A couple of weeks back, in our class WhatsApp chat, we started talking about our school days and the conversation veered towards our sports day. I enjoyed that conversation so much that I decided to take a trip down memory lane to reminisce about those days.

Our school sports day was the highlight of the second term, which happened after the Diwali holidays in the second term. The main sports day would happen sometime in December/early January before the class X students had their prelims.

Our school was divided into four houses and this was only for the secondary section. Unlike other schools, we didn’t have house named for flowers, national leaders or even landmarks. Since my school is a Parsi school, our houses were named for ancient Persian princesses. Selection of students to the different houses was completely random and we’ve tried to think of the various ways they may have done the choosing, but other than randomness, we have never been able to figure it out. In one family, you would have sisters in different houses, as it was in my house and also in my neighbour’s place where all the sisters were in different houses. I was in the green house while my sister was in the yellow house. As part of our school uniform, along with our school badge which was pinned on the top left of our uniform, above our hearts, we had to pin our house badge to the left of the school badge.

For a few months before the actual day, we would have what was known as indoor games as well as sports for which the school did not have the facilities to play and which needed to be played at a nearby gymkhana. These included sports like carrom, chess, badminton and table tennis. We also had some games like square ball and volley ball, which we played in our school grounds, competing with each other. The sports day was held in a small stadium not very close to the school, but in a centrally located area. A month or so before the actual sports day, we all trooped to the stadium for our heats. This was usually a half day and those of us who were not so inclined, used that half day to just chill and gossip with friends and cheer those who are competing. For children in the primary and kindergarten sections, they had their heats in a small garden behind the school.

In the days leading to the sports day, while the other events were held, we would anxiously keep track of the wins of each house and at the same time start the practice for the march past. Usually the class five students will be super eager to take part in the march past and would audition for the same. By the time we reached class eight, it was the other way around – we had to be forced to go down and take part. The march past contingent was made up of one girl who would carry the placard with the name of the house followed by the house captain who carried the house flag who would be followed by the march past contingent made up of 30 girls in 10 rows of three girls each. Every one on the field will be in white shorts and the school shirt which was our PE uniform and anyone representing a house will have a length of silk ribbon in the colour of the house stitched down both sides of their shorts.

The primary, kindergarten sections and any guests and parents sit together, but the secondary girls sit in their houses. This means that we would get very noisy, especially when we are cheering for our team and booing the opposition. The day’s finale was the march past and the house which scored the highest number of points aka the winner for the year had the honour of leading the march past. During my school years, it had always been the green house which led the march past with usually the red house coming second, the blue house at third position and the yellow house bringing up the rear. And usually, it would be the yellow house which would win the march past trophy. I only remember one year when I was probably in class 6, when there was a three-way tie for first position. Green, red and blue houses all tied and there was a toss to determine who would lead the march past and who would walk in second. I remember red house winning the toss and the captain of the house, who later became famous, was screaming and jumping with joy, because under her captaincy, the red house led the march past.

Our sports day would always be on a Sunday afternoon and would usually start around 2 pm and end around 6ish in the evening. We would go home tired but happy that day, especially since the next day used to be school holiday to help us (and more likely the teachers) recuperate from a hectic day.

This blog post was a blast to write as memories all kept flooding in and I wrote this post with a huge smile on my face. For most of us, our school days are the golden days which we remember fondly, with all the bad parts edited out. Maybe it’s our way of keeping our innocent and young years in our heart?

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