The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Her aim is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development, and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication, and information.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Traditional Sports and Games is an arm of United Nations & Scientific, Educational, Cultural Organizations, its intention is safeguarding and promoting traditional sports and games as well as to enhance intercultural dialogue and peace, reinforce youth empowerment, promote ethical sport practices and provide opportunities that typical sports may not.
Traditional sports and games have, for decades, faced a paradox upon all it good values, morals, ideas and principles it preach. There seem to be a renewed interest in Traditional sports and games at regional, national and international levels in recent years. But this is not harmonious with its apparent sidelining arising from increased professionalization and commercialization of sports, the corresponding shift in ethics that they encompass, the global majority of certain sporting activities and the neglect of physical education systems are important challenges contrasting with the development of traditional sports and games. With this in mind, UNESCO’s work focuses on advocacy aiming to safeguard, promote and develop Traditional sports and games, and to ensure that they form an integral part of national and international cultural development.
Indian American Shammi Rana is a former athlete and coach who brings a wealth of experience to this role. He is a seasoned sports activist with over two decades of experience and a widely acclaimed promoter of martial arts. Mr. Rana has been tasked to advance the mission of UNESCO by fostering international cooperation through sports and has been working with Mr. Hari Osias Bannag, a member of the TSG Advisory Committee to create a Pan American traditional wrestling organization amongst other things.
Hari Osias Bannag is also a major coup for UNESCO. Having literally discovered the Filipino Sikaran sport (a form of martial art) in his own backyard, he has gone on to master the sport to become a Grand master. Hari is the founder of the global Sikaran Federation and has not stopped researching and teaching the Sikaran traditional sport since 1976. He has well over 5 decades of experience in Martial Arts and his passion and experience will help in no small way towards the development of TSGs.
Both arrowheads met with Filipino legend and professional boxer turn politician, Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao who also serves as a senator of the Philippines. This meeting was set up in Los Angeles to discuss the support concepts of UNESCO on Traditional Sports and Games and the joining of Philippine government as member of Traditional Sport and Games. Unfortunately, Pacquiao was preoccupied with training for his WBA world welterweight title fight with Adrien Broner slated for January 19th, 2019 and has promised to meet with the duo again to discuss the details of the agenda.
UNESCO aims to achieve international recognition and safeguarding of traditional sports and games and has been hard at work canvassing support from all over the world. Earlier in the year, Shammi Rana met two Canadian parliamentarians to push the TSG agenda. In August, at the 4th collective consultation meeting of the TSG, Shaami Rana and the rest of the committee met with Turkish Premier Erdogan, as well as sports ministers from Turkey, Gambia, Sri-Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Ivory Coast amongst other. The committee had one agenda – To include traditional sports in the daily sports of countries. One of the major outcomes of the meeting was the choice of Kazakhstan as host country of the First 2021 Worldwide Traditional Games.
The concept of traditional sports and games differs from modern popular sports. Even though a lot of modern sport is premised on traditional sports, these form of sports have lost appeal to most people and are near extinction. To support such cause and catch the fancy of potential participants, a widely acceptable and respectable sports person is the ideal draw which explains the choice of Manny Pacquiao to help raise awareness in Philippines.
Philippine has a rich cultural heritage in sports and boasts of a number of traditional sports and games like Arnis, Eskrima, Kali and Sikaran. These have gained popularity in recent years while there are some reports that the US army and Russian Special Forces have incorporated some of these arts in real life training. With the experience of Shammi Rana, Oasis Bannag, the celebrity status and the perceived class with which Pacquiao has done nearly all things, UNESCO has the perfect mix to achieve their objectives in Philippines and beyond.