| Letter | Malaysia | 28 June 2016 | Asia Samachar |
By MSSSC Exco
The recent letter entitled Alcohol, Gurdwara and the Cup which was published on 22 June 2016 by an anonymous writer has brought about comments and questions and Malaysia Singapore Sikhs Sports Council (MSSSC) feels that it has to respond and enlighten fellow Sikhs on the true nature and history of the Gurdwara Cup and Sikh Festival of Sports.
SEE ALSO: Alcohol, Gurdwara and the Cup
There has been lots of misconceptions and rebuts and some critics have penned down their views on how this festival of sports should be managed and run even though it has been organised every year for the last 65 years.
Before we address some of the issues, let us first briefly share with our fellow Sikhs on the rich history of the Gurdwara Cup and Sikh Festival of Sports.
The Malayan Sikhs Sports Council was formed on 31 July 1949 by a group of enthusiastic sports minded Sikhs who felt that there was a need to further enhance the sporting activities of Sikhs in Malaya. Thus, the first hockey tournament under this umbrella body Malayan Sikhs Sports Council was organised in 1952 in Ipoh, Perak. A perpetual silver trophy was presented by the Gurdwara Sahib Police Central, Ipoh and has since become a symbol of hockey supremacy amongst the Sikhs. In 1968, the Malayan Sikhs Sports Council was renamed Malaysia Singapore Sikhs Sports Council (MSSSC) and the inaugural meeting was held on 22 December 1968.
The objectives that were agreed upon with the formation of MSSSC are:-
– to encourage and promote all forms of sports amongst Sikhs in Malaysia and Singapore.
– to organise representative matches and tournaments amongst Sikh affiliates.
– to organise representative matches between teams representing the MSSSC and teams from other communities or other organisations.
– to arrange foreign tours for teams representing MSSSC.
– to receive and host foreign teams visiting Malaysia and Singapore.
The MSSSC has been responsible for regularising all sporting activities for Sikhs in Malaysia and Singapore. After the first Gurdwara Cup hockey tournament was organised in 1952, MSSSC had incorporated other competitions as of 1974 such as football, netball, badminton, golf and kabaddi at senior level. Athletics and tennis were also introduced in certain years by the host state. In 2008, MSSSC had also introduced the Hockey Junior and Soccer Junior competitions to enable youth participation. These individual games were introduced from time to time to further increase participation of Sikh sportsmen and sportswomen. With the introduction of these games, which are held in conjunction with the hockey tournament, the games were thereafter called “Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports”.
The Gurdwara Cup and thereafter, called the Sikh Festival of Sports, had been held annually without a single year break since 1952. The host state of the Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports games is selected on a rotation basis amongst the 11 Member Affiliates of MSSSC. These games attract the largest gathering of Sikh sportsmen and sportswomen every year.
Other than the annual Sikh Festival or Sports, MSSSC also organises an annual Cricket match known as the Lall Singh Trophy which is named after the Legendary Cricketer Lall Singh. The game is played between the Sikhs from Malaysia and Singapore who are divided under the North Team and South Team. MSSSC and its member affiliates such as Negeri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Singapore and Johor have also embarked on Youth Development projects in sports such as Hockey, Football and Netball.
Some of the highlights;
a) The Gurdwara Cup hockey tournament today stands as the oldest hockey tournament in the world running into its 65th year in 2016.
b) The Gurdwara Cup and the Sikh Festival of Sports is currently the 2nd largest Sports Tournament in Malaysia after the Sukma Games. These games draws an approximate of 900 – 1,000 Sikh sportsman and sportswoman every year from the member affiliates (different states) in Malaysia
Response to recent letter by Asia Samarchar
MSSSC would like to state the following facts about the organising of the Gurdwara Cup and Sikh Festival of Sports;
- MSSSC is a non-religious body formed to promote and encourage Sports for fellow Sikh sportsman and sportswoman with accordance to the objectives of the organisation.
- MSSSC is made up of the Executive Committee and the Council which is represented by all State Affiliates. There are currently 11 State Affiliates.
- All decisions taken in organising the tournaments are briefed in Council meetings by the Host state and the meetings are attended by all State Affiliates.
- Do’s and Don’ts including games rules and eligibility criteria are all deliberated and approved at Council Meetings in presence of all State Affiliates in attendance.
- MSSSC does NOT encourage and condone alcohol during the games.
- All games organised by the host state are generally held in State Government venues which clearly prohibits sale or consumption of alcohol.
- The Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports is organised yearly on a rotation basis among the 11 member affiliates.
- MSSSC is the custodian of the games and it ensures that a host is identified to organise the games yearly and also all rules and regulations are abided with regards to the games.
- Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports organisers for 2016 were Negeri Sembilan Sikh Union (NSSU). This member affiliate is active in promoting sports among the youth through its various youth programmes held weekly and also have been involved in its social and education programmes whereby excellent Sikh students in the state of Negeri Sembilan are rewarded for their high achievements in the exams.
- As far as the organising of the Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports 2016, NSSU did a tremendous job in organising the games this year but sad to see how such hard work, sewa, planning and dedication can just be overlooked and ruined by narrow minded Sikhs focusing on issues not relevant to the objectives.
- The name of the hockey tournament first held in 1952 shall remain “Gurdwara Cup” and the games shall remain as ‘Sikh Festival Of Sports” and CANNOT be changed to suit a few individuals.
- All states affiliates raise funds and thereafter spend huge amounts of money for their individual players with training, logistics and accommodation and meals. All logistics for officials are also taken care of by the individual affiliate.
- Individual member affiliate’s Hockey and Soccer Junior teams are always monitored and a curfew is set to ensure discipline on and off the field is However, similar conditions are difficult to apply for others.
- The word ‘huru-hara’ Games has been wrongly and maliciously linked to alcohol. This calling was from non-Sikh umpires and referees in the 70’s due to the competitive nature of the Games when there used to have fights among Sikh players in the body contact games such as soccer and kabaddi and also the inability of these non-Sikhs to be able to pronounce the word Gurdwara properly. The word ‘huru-hara’ was never linked to alcohol and for the article to state so, is being malicious.
- It is a known fact that consumption of alcohol is a problem and phenomenon among the Sikhs. There are various other Sikh organisations and NGO’s that have taken the task into solving the problem and yet it is on the rise.
- MSSSC cannot be singled out as the one responsible for the culture of alcohol among our Sikh youth as any broad minded person will realize that a four-day event held once a year could actually convert a person into drinking.
- The crust of the problem is all the weddings, clubs/pubs and other Punjabi functions that we go to almost every other week which has alcohol being served openly irrespective of what type of Sikh crowd is invited.
- We also cannot deny that with the ‘financial’ standing of many Sikh individuals today, almost all occasions organised are flooded with alcohol.
- In fact the critics who question the alcohol consumption also cannot curb this habit among their siblings and friends, what more the Sikh society.
- It is also evident that spectators would come to the games venues with their own alcohol all ‘closed up in chillers’ and chilled up in their cars although it is known to them that government venues do not allow the sale and consumption of alcohol.
- MSSSC is not into moral policing to go after them for drinking as we are not in a position to do that. At most games venues, the organising state would engage RELA members to curb this menace and yet these drinks go pass them unnoticed.
- Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports will remain as a sporting event that has been entrusted by our elders since 1952 and MSSSC will not get into any religious and spiritual entanglements. We have many other Sikh NGOs working hard daily, weekly and monthly to handle that matter.
- Saying that, MSSSC will continue to notify all member affiliates that a healthy way through sports is to cultivate a healthy life style. We may not be able to reduce this problem to none but will continue to play our part through sports to reduce the problem to some extent.
- Our humble call is that it’s about time parents and other specific Sikh NGO’s that have this issue on their agenda to take up this responsibility and curb its menace without fear or favour rather than get others to point the fingers to other organisations who have nothing to do with the reason and rise of the problem!
With this detailed reply and explanation, MSSSC hopes to put the matter to rest and allow us to continue with this ‘sewa’ through sports for all Sikh participants.
Please also note that all issues concerning organising of the games, rules and regulations of the individual game, player’s eligibility, the code of conduct are all deliberated and discussed at MSSSC council meetings attended by all member state affiliates and decisions made are with the consensus made together. Hence, it should be known that all decisions at MSSSC council meetings have the endorsement of all Member Affiliates.
The Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports has gone through its ‘mill’ for the last 65 years. We should support its continuous existence so that history will remain with the future Sikh generation and allow it to continue to meet its objectives to encourage and promote all forms of sports amongst Sikhs in Malaysia and Singapore and to bring them closer for years to come.
- Letter from the Exco of Malaysian Singapore Sikhs Sports Council (MSSSC) in response to a letter to editor
Alcohol, Gurdwara and the Cup (Asia Samachar, 22 June 2016)
KL dethrones Perak at Malaysia-Singapore Sikh games, retains Gurdwara Cup for hockey (Asia Samachar, 6 June 2016)
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