Monday, 29 June 2009

Andy Murray: Nationalism and Tennis

Amanullah De Sondy
Thought for the Day
BBC Radio Scotland
Monday 29th June 2009

Returning back to officiate as a line umpire here at the All England Club in Wimbledon was not like the first time, as things never are. I’ve always resisted my trips to London because I’ve always felt it was a city too big for my liking but this time I felt more relaxed, traveling around on the Tube without a map and walking the streets like a Londoner.

Such a feeling has made me think about nationalism in the last few days. Tennis players from countries across the globe strive to play on and succeed on, what is for them, the holy green green grass. Supporters bring flags of countries and shout encouragement in a variety of different languages. And there are always great geographical conflicts being resolved on court such as this years Men’s double pairing, Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi from Pakistan and his Indian partner Prakash Amritraj. As I watched on the side lines of one of their matches I saw Sikh men wearing turbans cheering them on and fully veiled Muslim Pakistani women cheering them on too – interesting with pretty similar words.

In this way my emotions are stirred when I watch Andy Murray as a Scotsman rousing the fans who make the mighty trek from our beloved Scotland to SW19 in their tam-o shanters with bustling red hair for fun but also when I see players from the Indian subcontinent who pull the strings of my ancestral heritage. It reminds me of the Qur’anic verse which states that God’s earth is vast – maybe God is telling us not to shrink the vastness through our small minds.

Nationalism has a fine way of placing us all into neat boxes just as religion does yet the beauty is in exploring each others worlds in order to strengthen our own and see the remarkable similarities. For after all, what brings all these tennis players together is their of love of tennis, regardless of what country they developed and refined their skills. And, well, it must be said to end that there is no better way to experience this international display of greatness without strawberries and cream!

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