‘Teach your children swimming, archery and horse riding’ – Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) - as narrated by Hazrat Ibn Umar (R.A.)
How one plays sports is a mirror of how one manages school and life. Good athletes understand the transformative power of hard work, focus, commitment, self-discipline and multi-tasking. Sports teaches us that life is composed of both victory and losses, and that it is important to persevere and play your best even when you are losing. It teaches us how to best deal with competition, that giving-up is not an option, and how to collaborate and work as a team rather than only looking out for oneself. Sports help us all become all-rounded individuals, and we don’t have to be star athletes to be empowered by sports.
This is why the Galle Muslim Cultural Association (GMCA) places a high emphasis on sports and thus provides access to indoor sports to Galle Fort youth. Young people, be they preteens, adolescents or young adults, are provided a safe space to spend time productively, be mentored and build meaningful friendships with their peers by whilst engaging in a range of indoor sporting activities at the GMCA centre.
The Galle Muslim Cultural Association is recognised for its prowess in table tennis, in particular, having produced two international referees and boasting of voting rights in the Sri Lanka Table Tennis Association (TTASL), the national body for table tennis in the nation. TTASL is a member of Sri Lanka’s National Olympic Committee (NOC) and is an affiliated member of the Asia Table Tennis Union (ATTU) and the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
Sports also confer physical and mental health benefits and are especially relevant in today’s world where unhealthy food and sedentary lifestyles have resulted in many adults and children suffering from non communicable diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Not only do sports help us keep physically fit, but also mentally healthy – helping us stay alert and manage the stresses of modern day life.
‘The Prophet (PBUH) passed by some people from the tribe of Aslam while they were competing in archery. He said to them: ‘Shoot children of [Prophet] Ishmael, your father was a skilled marksman. Shoot and I am with so and so’. One of the two teams then stopped shooting. The Prophet (PBUH) asked, ‘Why do you not shoot?’. They answered: ‘How could we shoot while you are with them [the other team]. He responded: ‘Shoot and I am with you all’.’ - as narrated by Imam Bukhari
In 2015, GMCA organised for the first time the biennial event - Fort Premier League (FPL). Held to coincide with the Sri Lankan New Year or Avurudu celebrations, it also harnessed the power of sports in uniting people from different faiths, races and walks of life and thus promote intercommunal harmony in the Galle Fort, and beyond. A professionally conducted limited overs day and night game of cricket, eight teams fought for the championship.