Dr Eugene D’Souza
for Daijiworld Media Network - Mumbai (GA)
Mumbai, Mar 13: The cricket field of Indian Cricket Club’s Brabourne Stadium at Churchgate, Mumbai, became the melting pot of different religious traditions as the priests from eight different faiths divided in two teams ‘Pyaar’ and ‘Prem’ manifested their sporting spirit that overshadowed the orthodoxy of their respective religions.
On Sunday March 9, 2008 the’ Cricket for Peace’ tournament organized by the ‘Wisdom Foundation’ took off with a high note of nationalism and popular enthusiasm. Dr Zeenat Shaukat Ali, the managing trustee and Founder Director General of the Wisdom Foundation welcomed the dignitaries and spectators.
The dignitaries included Raj Singh Dungarpur, president of Cricket Club of India, who was the chief guest of the day, Diana Edulji, Sanjay Manjrekar, and Nandini Sardesai, wife of the late Dilip Sardesai. Salman Khan, the Bollywood star, who made his presence felt during the second half of the tournament and galvanized the players as well as the spectators. He greatly appreciated the efforts of the ‘Wisdom Foundation’ in organizing ‘Cricket for Peace’ tournament and promoting communal harmony.
In the allotted 15 overs to each side, the ‘Pyaar’ team under the captainship of Sadhu Bhagwant Tushar Gala belonging to Jain faith played first and scored 138 runs for the loss of two wickets and in reply the ‘Prem’ team led by Fr Philip D’Souza SJ scored 81 runs for the loss of all wickets in 14.2 overs. There was a liberal mixture of Hindu Pundits, Muslim Mullas, Christian Priests, Sikh Granthis, Zoroastrian Dasturs, Jain Sadhus, Jewish Rabbis and Buddhist Monks in both the teams.
‘Pyaar’ team was awarded the winners’ trophy; the ‘Prem’ team won the award for displaying best spirit of sportsmanship; Sadhu Bhagwant Tushar Gala was adjudged as the ‘Man of the Match’; and Granthi Satpal Singh was given the Best Sportsman award.
Four Christian priests participated in the tournament – Fr Philip D’Souza SJ belonging to St Antony’s Church, Malwani, who was also the captain of the ‘Prem’ team, Fr Trevor Fernandez, a diocesan priest from Our Lady of Bethlehem Church at Dongri- Utthan, Fr Lawrence D’Souza, a diocesan priest from Our Lady of Nazareth Parish, Bhayandar and Fr Franco Cardoz belonging to Pilar Fathers from Our Lady of Dolorous Church, Marine Lines.
When asked about their views on the ‘Cricket for Peace’, most of the participants in the tournament appreciated the experiment in bringing about harmony through the game of cricket and praised the efforts of the ‘Wisdom Foundation’ and especially that of Dr Zeenat Shaukat Ali who had worked very hard in bringing the priests from different religious traditions on a single platform. Their mutual interaction during the practice sessions and on the field had helped them in developing a respect and appreciation of each other’s faiths.
The spectators also presented a mosaic of different religious traditions. They applauded the batsmen, bowlers and fielders for their team spirit and exemplary sportsmanship.
The entire atmosphere at the Brabourne Stadium was festive and bonhomie. For at least half a day, the priests and people around set aside their religious identities and prejudices and concentrated on the game of cricket displaying exemplary sportsmanship. In the great task of building communal harmony and peace, this experiment of the ‘Wisdom Foundation’ in organizing ‘Cricket for Peace’ is a small step which would become a giant leap in building a society in which love, brotherhood and cooperation among people belonging to different religious traditions would prevail.