Commonwealth Sports of Cultural Connections

Autistic Conservative Charlie Keeble today writes in the Havering Daily about our commonwealth and its sports on the build-up to Commonwealth day on March 9th.

Havering has a lot of sports and cultural activities hosted by it’s citizens all year round. They are related to the shared mutual interests of the borough’s residents. Of the ethnically diverse people that live in Havering they are mostly from Commonwealth nations such as India, Bangladesh, African nations and the Caribbean. These nations are mutual partners in Britain’s international trade relations and now that we have left the European Union, we will see more benefits in enterprise and civic national relations. 

The people of Havering are actively engaged in all types of sports and like the Commonwealth of Nations there are many that are actively played across the borough. Basketball, cricket, rowing, athletics, gymnastics, lawn bowls, swimming, diving, triathlon, cycling and my own sport, archery. There is also an international sporting event where these sports are played out before an excited audience of 2 billion people across the world. That is the Commonwealth Games. 

I have seen plenty of friendly games out there played as a volunteer at the Glasgow 2014 games. Back then I was actively engaged in sports volunteering and trying my hand at becoming a professional archer. When the 2012 Olympic Games came to London, I was inspired to take up a new sport and I choose archery. Over the years I immersed myself in the sport studying the technical aspects of bows and arrows, the archery industry and the stories of famous bowmen and ended up becoming an archery geek.

I played at club level for a few years as a member of West Essex Bowman, where we hosted some very big archery competitions that brought in some of Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic champions to play. Archery brought me into a wider social circle of people and I bought my own gear to play in tournaments. It also made me love playing in the outdoors more often and I got a better appreciation of looking after the environment.

Then I started to become engaged in political activism and applied my passion for community sports and archery into a campaign. My goal was to make make archery a core sport in the Commonwealth Games. It was to prove the value of sport to unite the Commonwealth and promote community wellbeing through physical and mental abilities. 

Unlike the Olympics the Commonwealth Games has a selective system of sports that the host city can use to choose their sports. They must host 19 sports, of which include 7 para-sports, and 7 more from a list of 14 optional sports. Archery is amongst the optional sports, and it has only been played two times in 1982 and 2010. 

But this system has some disadvantages that leaves some nations with little medal winning potential and reduces the exposure and money-making opportunities for certain sports. Archery may be more visible in films and television shows like Robin Hood and the Hunger Games. But as a sport its not that well known to people because of a lack of television coverage. 

Last year the committee of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games decided not to have archery and shooting on their sports list. This angered the Indian sports federation and the archery and shooting associations because these sports had big opportunities and medal winning potential for Indian athletes. They even threatened to boycott the Birmingham games and pull India out completely. 

But a resolution to this crisis has recently been found. After months of talks between the Commonwealth Games Federation and the Indian government and sports federation agreed to host archery independently and run it in January of that year in Chandigarh, northern India. I was very pleased to hear this and I am thankful for the CGF and the Indian government for supporting archery and bringing it’s significance to the value of the Commonwealth Games executive committee. 

This has also given my archery campaign more credibility because it shows that the sports programme of the Commonwealth Games needs to change. I think it needs to get rid of the core and optional list and use a single set of core sports that reflect the cultural connections of the Commonwealth, the shared mutual interests of the nations and the potential for growth of sports and their value to society. This can increase the civil justice and economic ties of the Commonwealth of Nations. 

What is often misunderstood about international multi-sport events is their political and social support for civil justice, economic ties and humanitarian objectives. Did you know that the Commonwealth Games was created as a non-political mission of the Commonwealth of Nations to promote friendships, diversity, equality, human rights, democracy and the rule of law through sport? If not then also look at the original vision of the founder of the modern Olympic Games who created it as a means to achieve world peace. 

I look forward to the next Commonwealth Games and I intend to actively follow the archery on the TV in 2022 in Chandigarh. What I need right now is support for this campaign by signing this petition here. I will do my best to contact the Commonwealth Games and the president Dame Louise Martin. I have been running this campaign for five years and my persistance continues even if Archery GB is not as supportive of my objective as my Conservative partyconnections.

Charlie Keeble

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