Monday, April 6, 2015

Sports for Peace

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 6 April as the International Day of Sports and Physical Activity, to celebrate the contribution of sports and physical activity to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world. The 2nd International Day of Sport for Development and Peace will be celebrated on 6 April 2015. This year's theme is "Learning to live together", and we've got some amazing sportspeople from India, sharing their stories as sportspersons, and their thoughts on how sports can facilitate and encourage peace!

Robin Singh, Former Cricketer, India
It is well known that India-Pakistan matches are not only highly competitive, but also have longstanding history as a strong undercurrent. I have played some memorable matches against Pakistan in the past when their team boasted of stalwarts like Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul-Haq. Amir Sohail and Rameez Raja to name a few. We as sportspersons stepped on the field and  lifted our game to compete with the spirit of competition and friendship. I cherish my friendship with these Pakistani players. I believe sports can be a great instrument of peace.

Arvind Srevatsa, Rowing Champion, India
We had this Rowing competition called ARAE where rowing clubs in the eastern part of the world compete every year. They played the national anthem and the feeling of standing among so many people from different countries and singing one's national anthem was really special to me. I won the semi final race against a sculler from Colombo, one from the Army and another from Karachi. It was a win by a very close margin and we all got out and shared hugs. Any sportsperson will want to win something for the country, but beyond that, there are always moments and people we remember and stay in touch long after the competition. I'm still in touch with those guys from Karachi and Colombo.  

Joshana Chinappa, Squash Champion
We all get along, as the community of Squash players is a small world! It's always nice to catch up with all the players from around the world at tournament dinners and otherwise. No matter what country is having a conflict with what other country, sport always has a way to unite people and it's never ever political between us! We joke around when we are not playing or training. I have friends on tour from Pakistan whom I have known for 10 years and we always have respect on court and off it, and have a good laugh together, off it. Sport is truly universal. It doesn't matter where you come from, but only matters how you conduct yourself on and off the court!

Niranjan Navalgund, National Level Chess Player, India

In a world torn apart by geographical boundaries, political strife, racial discrimination and economic inequality, sport is perhaps the greatest equaliser. You don't need to belong to a certain class or caste or colour to play. And that, I guess, is the foundation stone for world peace and harmony.