India has a strong human resource of 113 crores, largely vested in its villages. Effectively harnessing this great potential can help Indians dominate the international sports arena. This study was undertaken as a small step in recognising and enhancing athletic talent among rural women, the most neglected group of sports persons. Thirty female rural athletes (15–18 years of age) were selected of whom 12 each were school/college level and district level players, respectively, and 6 were state level players. Nutritional status was assessed through anthropometry, dietary survey (3-day food weighment method) and blood haemoglobin analysis. Physical fitness was assessed in terms of cardiovascular endurance and flexibility tests. Two pregame foods viz. groundnut chikki and lemon juice were developed and their effects were assessed on physical performance and group competition (volley ball). Nutrition education was imparted through conventional (booklet, poster, chart) and computer assisted nutrition education materials developed and their impact was assessed on the on the KAP of athletes. Forty per cent of the athletes were from BPL families and though 87% were non-vegetarians, food and nutrient intakes were grossly inadequate, 57% were in different stages of CED. All of them were in negative energy balance. Majority had mild or moderate anaemia. The two pregame foods improved individual physical performance significantly (p<0.01), while they had no significant effect on group competition. Nutrition education had an overwhelming effect on KAP.
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