Yes, let us go there!
Yes, there we go! Yes or No! Were there Traditional Sports in the XX1 Commonwealth Games? I say, do you agree, that there were some Traditional Sports in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, at Gold Coast, Australia?
I know that those of us here in Africa, we have our indigenous traditional sports like Ayo, Abula, Aarin (African Billiards), Dambe (traditional boxing), Kokawa (traditional wrestling), Langa (a kind of marshal arts sport), Horse racing (Durbar), Abili, Mudesi, Gbadigbadi, Ekunmeran, Pharaoh boxing, Nsango etc. Was any one of these African Traditional Sports in the Commonwealth Games? No. certainly our African Traditional Sports were not there. This was because these were Traditional Sports from Africa. It was not just that alone. It was because these our Traditional Sports are still at the level of sports not yet “institutionalized”. Very soon in this write up you will know what it means for a sport to be “institutionalized”. Some of our Traditional Sports have started to receive “treatment” or have started to receive “instrument” of “institutionalization”.
Now, let us go back to our initial question. Do you believe that there were Traditional Sports among the Commonwealth Games of 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia? I will rather prefer to answer the question with proof and not direct “Yes or No” answer. I will also answer the question from European point of view as elucidated by “TAFISA RECALL”.
The European Traditional Sports and Games Association (ETSGA) classified Traditional sports under eight divisions, according to TAFISA RECALL. The divisions include:
- Malleable ball games, played without or with the use of equipment such as racket, bat stick. From this group, let us pick net ball as a traditional game in the current Commonwealth Games. Yes, it’s among.
- Non-malleable balls such as bowls, skittle games, billiards, etc. from that group, we can identify, Lawn bowl in the current Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
- Throwing games involving throwing objects such as darts, hammer, bullet, cabers etc. From this division, we can pick hammer which is in the current Commonwealth Games.
- Shooting games e.g. fire-arms, target shooting, blowpipes, sling etc. Shooting was among the sports in this just concluded 2018 Commonwealth Games.
- Fighting and jousting sports e.g. wrestling, drilling stone contest, quintana, tug-of-war etc. Wrestling was among the Commonwealth Games 2018.
- Animal games tagged (cruel games) where an animal is the object of play.
- Locomotion games, involving moving oneself or moving an object. Such sports may mean sports like running and throwing, the relay race etc.
- Acrobatics, which requires skillful body control e.g. Castells. Gymnastics can identify with this group.
It is cristal clear that there were Traditional Sports at this 2018 Commonwealth Games. However, all the Traditional Sports there have gotten to “institutionalized” level.
First, what is a Traditional Sport? By my own observation, Europe is not defining “a Traditional Sport”, rather in Europe; they define Traditional Sports in plurality. Most of the definitions available will tell you “Traditional Games” or more frequently “Traditional Sports and Games (TSG), thereafter using “TSG” as acronym for the vocabulary standing for Traditional Sports in their texts.
For example, TAFISA RECALL, featuring Blanchard (1995) as viewing Traditional Sports on anthropological point of view. “He saw TSG as forms of sports activities directly tied to particular local ethnic or folk cultures (ethnic or folk sport), mostly competitive with physical play and game-like elements with limited or no professional variants, with stronger ritual overtones than those so-called modern sports. In this respect, TSG preserved traditional values, developed the skills of participants and help to link the present with the past”.
TAFISA RECALL went further to give more comprehensive definition of Traditional Sports as: “Traditional games are motor activities of leisure and recreation which can have a ritual character. They are part of the universal heritage diversity. They are practiced in an individual or collective manner deriving from regional or local identity; they are based on rules accepted by a group that organizes competitive or non-competitive activities. Traditional games dispose of a popular character in their practice and in their organization, yet if turned into sport tend to be uniform and institutionalized. The practices of traditional games promote global health (UNESCO 2009)”.
The beauty of the definition is that it looks very simple, yet it is very sophiscated. It means, Traditional Sports are not “yet real sports” until “turned into sport tend to be uniform and institutionalized”. To my understanding, such traditional sports should have been developed, improved, with articulate universal rules and regulations (institutionalized). The sport becoming an “institution” must have received professional variants.
The Traditional Sport, graduating from that local level, to become a global sport (a real sport) is the main target of our African Traditional Sports.
Let us look at the real sports at this 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast Australia, (the XX1 Commonwealth Games). The approved sports include;
- Rugby Seven
- Table Tennis
All the above sports, were the approved sports of 2018 Commonwealth Games. Each of the sports listed above is an “institution” with professional variants.
What does it entail for a sport to be an institution, or to be institutionalized? To have professional variants? It may mean:
- Should have possessed universally accepted rules and regulations
- Has spread to many countries
- Has spread to the countries that are participating in it
- Has international controlling body
- Has spread to most of all the continents of the world
- Each country participating in it must have gotten to a level of proficiency that will make the team representing her not to be a misfit on the field of play
- Techniques and technologies must have been injected into it after its initial raw invention and existence.
- Capacity building must have been imbued into it.
Yes, let us go there and make our AfricanTraditional Sport get there.
Mallam Elias Yusuf
16 – 04 – 2018