H E Bilal Erdogan of World Ethnosport Confederation has invited the Chairman, Mr. Khalil Ahmed Khan; and Mr. Shammi Rana, Rapporteur, Traditional Sports and Games, UNESCO to attend the forum for the Revival of Traditional Sports that was held at Antalya, Turkey on the 17th and 18th February 2018.

Mr. Rana and Mr. H E Bilal Erdogan discussed about hosting 4th Collective Consultative Meeting of Traditional Sports and Games in Turkey.   The sole intention of this meeting is to preserve and promote the concept of Traditional Sports and Games.

The UNESCO Chairman introduced and explained the frame work and the scope of UNESCO to the members at the forum.  Members were representatives from Sports Federation, UNESCO and Non-Government Organizations.  He explained the views and background to the Traditional Sports and Games project which was to vitalize the TSG and safe guard the same.

Ethnosport meaning people’s sports is a set of traditional forms of structured physical activities to a specific region, culture or race. On the path of globalizing it, restructuring ethnosports with explicit refereeing, standardizing ethnic equipment and scoring systems are a big step in unifying the diverse culture-specific sports.  Martial arts, Yoga, Belly dance are only a few examples of Ethnosports.

Determined to preserve and protect traditional activities, many countries are proclaiming themselves as a part of United Nations’ Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage programs.  A separate and specific department – The Social and Human Science, of UNESCO, takes the responsibility of coordinating traditional sports from various sporting institutions from all around the world.

In 1999, observing the need for protecting and preserving traditional sports and   physical education, the third International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials responsible for Physical Education and Sports was called.   Subsequently,   in 2004 and 2005, improving efforts were made to safe guard TSG. The first collaborated meeting was held in Paris on 6th and 7th of the year 2017.  The policy that gives guidelines to take TSG to the National, International and global level were framed.

As of today, the mission of the Federation for Wrestling with key partnership from UNESCO is to successfully protect the game, its operations and sustainability. This is suggested as bench mark for the rest of the traditional games.  In 2008, to take TSG to the global level, UNESCO conducted ‘Scientific Conference’, ‘Green Festivals’ and ‘Play for Peace’ which greatly revived TSG.

The four main subcommittees under the guidance of UNESCO are working on –

  • Online encyclopedia and digital and print data base
  • Policy guidelines – preservations and practices of knowledge on sports and games
  • To create international platform to regulate under one framework
  • To manage resources, communication and to generate funds

TSG has been marginalized due to increased professionalism, commercialization and value shift.  UNESCO along with TSG federations aims at safeguarding, advocating, promoting and developing TSGs.  The chairman suggested that the governments can volunteer to create data base about their traditional game and can ensure the inclusion of their games at the national and international forums that will enhance the governments’ identity and unify diverse cultures through sports.  In turn peace and heritage retention can be achieved is the vision of the chairman.

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