Let’s Play — Ankit Nirankari balances sportsmanship and academics

Ankit Nirankari was appointed as President of the Little Giants Sports (LGS) club in August 2019 by the Student Life department. The club holds practices and games for five different sports: football, cricket, basketball, badminton and volleyball. Ankit manages and coaches the cricket, basketball and volleyball team and oversees all of them to ensure everything is running evenly. Cricket has eight students who attend regularly, volleyball has 12, basketball has 18, badminton has more than 20, and football is by far the most popular sport which sees 40-50 students in all matches.

Ankit has played competitive sports his whole life and has even played at state-level for volleyball, table tennis and baseball. This love of sports does not make his responsibilities as club president feel like work, but play, although Ankit admits feeling fatigued, as the club starts at 7 in the morning, followed by his classes. His passion for sports helps him overcome this fatigue.

Ankit wanted to take on this leadership role so he could pass this affinity towards sports to other students as well. His prior experience in playing many different sports makes him the ideal club president as he can teach beginners elementary rules and techniques of all the sports he coaches. His only challenge so far has been to influence students to come for the early start time of 7:00 a.m., as this is the only slot available for these teams.

The benefits of joining a sports club far outweighs the hassle of getting out of bed so early. Joining this no-pressure club provides stress relief, relaxation, socialization, as well as physical exercise. Ankit encourages students to take a break from solely focusing on academics, as the university can become extremely stressful and unenjoyable if students only focus on their deadlines and endless to-do lists. Academics do not play the sole role in post-secondary education, and will certainly not play the only role when students transfer to Canada. Joining a sports team can help them make new friends. If a team gets good enough and starts winning competitions, this extra-curricular activity looks excellent on a student’s resume, as employers are impressed by the commitment and the ability to be a team player.

Teaching sportsmanship is another one of Ankit’s goals as club President. He has learned to accept defeat gracefully while playing sports, which is an essential lesson for academics, another field in which students often face defeat. Playing sports helps them learn to accept defeat, makes them stronger and more eager to improve their skills.

One does not only become stronger physically but mentally as well. Ankit often sees students’ mental health benefit from joining these clubs. Ankit also finds different inter-college events and tournaments for the clubs to play at and organizes other special sporting events during the semester, such as tug-of-war, badminton week and cricket league. Some events Ankit wants to plan for the future are a student vs. staff tug-of-war, a basketball league, and potentially a baseball club.