Unite in Sports

Humanity-Equality-Destiny. The 3 forces that have held the world together in the past and will continue doing so in future as well. The 3 forces that have ensured healthy and proper sustenance of human beings in all spheres of their lives will continue to be the driving force. So there is little wonder that these 3 forces also guide the success of one of the most popular International Mulit-Sporting Event – The Commonwealth Games, as well as the success of the organization responsible for them – The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). With the motto – Humanity-Equality-Destiny, the CGF oversees and controls the Mega Sporting Event and selects the host countries.

The Commonwealth Games were initiated in 1891, as proposed by Reverend Astley Cooper for bringing together the members of the British Empire. The idea was to increase the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire in the world. In the year 2000, the CGF added another thread to this sporting event by opening the Games to athletes 18 years of age. These were known as The Youth Games, an excellent opportunity for aspiring young athletes. The Youth Games were first held in Edinburgh. In India, Pune hosted the Youth Games in 2008, where 71 nations participated in 9 sports.

The Commonwealth Games have constantly evolved since their beginning. Majorly dominated by the British in their early years, the Games have grown into a means of worldwide integration of sporting talents, reflecting the spirit of the 71 teams that participate in them.

The first Games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada under the name – The British Empire Games, where 11 countries sent a total of 400 athletes. These included Australia, Canada, England, Northern Ireland, Wales, South Africa etc. 6 sports and 59 events were held, which were – athletics, boxing, lawn balls, rowing, swimming, diving and wrestling. The inauguration was very down to earth.

Since then, the Games have been conducted every 4 years till now (except during 1942 and 1946 due to World War II). As said before, the Games have evolved over a period of time to reflect the spirit of the 71 participating nations. From 1930-1950, the Games were known as The British Empire Games, from 1954-1966: the British Empire and The Commonwealth Games, and from 1970-1974: the British Commonwealth Games. It was only in the XIth Games in 1978 Games in Edmonton, Canada, that the Multi-Sports Event came to be known as The Commonwealth Games.

As the Games started being held every 4 years, more sporting events were added. Initially, only one or two sports were played, but later in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Games, Cricket (50 overs), Hockey (Men and Women), Netball (Women) and Rugby 7’s (Men) were played for the first time. In 2006 Melbourne, Basketball also became a part of this event.

The Commonwealth Games, like any other sporting event, have slowly gained fame and glory all over the world. They are popular because the sporting events involved are different from the usual Football and Cricket which go on almost throughout the year (especially cricket). This ensures that people, who are not even aware that sport is multi-dimensional, get a flavour of the rare sporting spectacle that these Games offer.

The current Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games have done just that in India. Majorly considered a country whose heart throbs only for Cricket, Indians are now getting a unique experience of a great variety of Sports, and guess what? They are enjoying every bit of it! It is refreshingly different from cricket! The great thing about the Commonwealth Games, in general, is that sports like Archery, Lawn Balls, Netball, and Rugby etc. which otherwise are neglected, draw attention of people at large.

Also, there are few countries which people haven’t even heard the names of. Countries like Seychelles (island country in the Indian Ocean), St. Vincent & The Grenadines (south of Windward Island), Papua New Guinea (country in Oceania) etc. are a few that are not popularly known. What is inspiring is that the countries have such talented players that they get an opportunity to showcase their skills at the grand International Sporting Event. There are competitions held for differently abled players as well! One cannot help but marvel at the sporting spirit that binds all nations – big or small – despite being divided by the human – made parameters of Development and Progress.

Aishani Gupta