By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION
Sports can bring out the best in us. Participating in a competitive sport can create a wide range of emotions that we all can relate to. The agony of defeat, the euphoria of overcoming the odds to win. Heroes will rise. Champions will thrive.
More often than not, friendships are made, bonds are strengthened, allies become of. I’ve participated in many a competition ever since I played competitive tennis at the tender age of 8. I’ve played competitive sports during my formative years as a teenager, football and even basketball in school, tennis at state level and even dabbled in field hockey during my varsity days. Mind you, I never really excelled to be a champion of champions but I’ve received the intangible and invaluable benefits of understanding what it takes to be a team player and a leader. These are valuable traits in my adulthood, for me to navigate through my career and in society in general.
Sports can also bring out the worst in us. Some of us blame it on being passionate, at the heat of the moment, where emotions boil over and a reaction of a mere seconds can lead to regret. A hard tackle or challenge to the shins, a wild swing of the hockey stick to the knee, a foul mouthed response to an insult. Quite often, regret follows.
The longer you compete and play the game, the more you mature and realize that you only want to enjoy playing the game and to not negatively affect your opponent physically or mentally. In the long run, you will always regret burning bridges, it being the single most counter productive thing to do when you’re competing in a sporting event. The whole point of us all meeting up at a sports event is to push our very own abilities against our best, and against the best of others, to marvel and admire the better ones amongst ourselves and to go home and improve ourselves thereafter. Anything else is folly. In the process, we make friends with our opponents, with mutual respect for actually competing with each other. That’s as human as we get. Animals don’t do this, only humans do, if you haven’t noticed.
The recent ruckus that happened at a Sikh Games football match in Kedah brought out some heavy duty reactions from many of us in the Punjabi community. We are talking about the Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports, organised annually by the Malaysian Singapore Sikh Sports Council (MSSSC), which ended over the weekend.
Some condemned the organizers and the event itself, having forged the unfortunate reputation over the decades of being the ‘Huru Hara’ (Malay for chaotic) Cup. Bygone years have bore witness to alcohol abuse at the games, drunken fights and ugly arguments sullying the original intent of the games that were meant to be a platform for sportsmanship and friendship amongst our community.
SEE ALSO: Gurdwara Cup soccer match turns ugly
Others have tried to morally support the organizers that have sacrificed blood and sweat to make the event a success. It has to be said, they’ve tried to change the reputation of the games to one more respectable and family-friendly over the years. They’ve completely negated alcohol abuse officially from the games. But old memories are hard to forget, especially when violences erupts, and the pointing fingers come out with quick harsh judgements.
Both violence and alcohol abuse tend to walk hand in hand, even if both are mutually exclusive at this instance. In fact, alcohol was not even in the picture, according to eye witnesses. It was just an understandable friction amongst very competitive opponents. Understandable but we have to, and we must, discourage this sort of behavior in the name of friendship, kinship and sportsmanship. I’m very sure the organizers are already working overtime to punish the culprits accordingly and avoid it in future games. And I really hope they do come up with something sustainable. Alas, reputations are hard to rebuild. They’ve got their work cut out, that’s for sure.
But this isn’t something radically new. Sporting events happen all year round for decades and decades of years in every corner of our country and in the world. Passionate sportsmen and sportswomen have always been there excelling at competing. Arguments and fights do crop up and will crop up at many of these events. These Malaysia-Singapore Sikhs games will go through these motions as well, I don’t doubt this. [Gurdwara Cup is the name for the annual hockey tourney which began in 1952. It was later expanded to Gurdwara Cup & Sikh Festival of Sports as the organisers included other games likes soccer, netball, and badminton].
As long as the friendships are built for generations to come, as long as we give our sportsmen and sportswomen an avenue to enjoy sports, we all have to agree and support that these games must continue. This would include supporting other grassroots sporting events like the Holla Mohala organised by the Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) and the Akaal Premier League organised by the Kuala Lumpur-based Akaal Sports Academy (ASA). They all serve the same purpose and should be treated equally.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
Young golfers at Malaysia-Singapore annual Sikh games (Asia Samachar, 25 June 2018)
Gurdwara Cup soccer match turns ugly (Asia Samachar, 23 June 2018)