TOPICS:Sports to promote national unity

After ages, I took time away from the political turmoil and decided to watch a cricket match played by Nepal against Malaysia in the final game of ACC U 17 elite cup. Due to my prior commitments, I reached late and was just in time to see our country batting in the fields. The weather was perfect. The aura, the ambience and the atmosphere there were overwhelming. Each time a run was made, the response from our country folks was ecstatic. As they cheered, clapped and smiled, I felt a sense of deep satisfaction. The names on the boards were hazy, no one bothered which specific person was batting, no caste and party was in the people’s mind and when they applauded, no one looked less joyful than the other, they were one united Nepali citizens.

The feeling was so gratifying that I went to watch a football match, where Nepal was playing against Kyrgyzstan in the AFC Challenge Cup. The experience was the same. It reminded me of a saying which said that it was not the Indian constitution that united India, but it was cricket. It looks very true to me. When India plays cricket; no one cares which part of the country they belong to and which religion they follow. The spirit of sports is to promote peace and unity. In fact, thousands of years ago, countries at war would stop their wars temporarily and come together to take part in ancient Olympic Games. They observed truce in the name of Greek Gods, and thousands of warring people came together to watch people playing sports putting aside their differences and hatred. Burundi, which had been undergoing 14 years of agonizing strife, came together as one, when Venuste Niyongabo won the country’s first Olympic gold medal in the 5,000m event at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

As Nepal is redesigning itself along a federal line, we have to have a way to find unity in our diversity. Encouraging sports and promoting sportsmanship spirit would be one way to promote national unity. I imagine a situation few years from now where a Nepali football team or a cricket team playing against other countries in some world cup and winning it, how proud it would make us , to rejoice together, how united we would feel. But for this it is important that we encourage sports as a tool for promoting national unity not mere recreation. Stop using sports to serve petty interests.