The Commonwealth Games: Inspiring Global Relations Through Sport
With The Commonwealth Games now in full swing on Australia’s sunny Gold Coast, and with dozens of Coach Logic users representing their country at GC2018, we found ourselves pondering on what the game really means to the sporting world.
Since its inaugural tournament back in 1930, under the guise of ‘The British Empire Games’, The Commonwealth Games have grown on a massive scale, both in terms of the number of athletes taking part and the interest from the general public.
But how did the games come to be? What’s their history? And how important are the games in the context of global relations, especially now that the ‘Empire’ that brought them together no longer exists in the same way. Far from its origins, today’s Commonwealth is a voluntary association, made up of 71 countries and territories all over the world. The Commonwealth includes some of the world’s largest countries, like India, and some of the smallest like the Central Pacific island of Nauru.
Despite these differences, sport underpins the unique connections and friendships which bind us. Indeed, The Commonwealth Games is the very cornerstone of the modern Commonwealth and is today one of the strongest elements bringing us together. This idea is perfectly summed up by The Commonwealth Games Federation’s mission statement:
“Building peaceful, sustainable and prosperous communities globally, by inspiring Commonwealth Athletes to drive the impact and ambition of all Commonwealth Citizens through sport”.
The notion of sport as a fundamental tool in the building and sustaining of global relations is central to what the Federation sees as its main focus. It hasn’t always been simple, boycotts, gender inequality and political scandal have been known to plague earlier Games, but the modern Commonwealth has made great strides moving away from this.
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The history of The Commonwealth Games is long and storied. The idea of a sporting celebration amongst the countries within the British Empire was actually suggested as far back as 1891. However, it wasn’t until much later, in 1930 that the first games took place in Ontario, Canada.
Eleven countries participated in those first games, comprised of 400 athletes – far fewer than today’s efforts. Female athletes were only permitted to compete in aquatic events back then, highlighting how far the sporting world has had to come in regards to women’s rights. In case you were wondering, the honour of winning the first-ever Commonwealth Games gold medal went to Canadian triple jumper Gordon Smallacombe.
Fast forward to 1954, and the Games adopted its first name change, becoming known as The British Empire and Commonwealth Games. These games, which were also held in Canada, are perhaps most famous for one of the most enduring moments in sporting history. It was here that the late, great Sir Roger Bannister won gold by completing the first-ever sub-four minute mile – The Miracle Mile.
In 1978, another name change took place; finally becoming The Commonwealth Games, with…you guessed it…Canada once again on hosting duties. But it was 1998’s Games that provided some fascinating facts. The Kuala Lumpur Games were the first games to be held in Asia and the first time they’d been held in a non-English speaking country. These Games were also the first to feature team sports, massively increasing both participant and TV numbers. Finally, and far more interestingly, the tiny island of Nauru we mentioned earlier managed to win an incredible three gold medals at these games.
Incredibly, Nauru actually sits 20th position on the all-time medals table out of a possible 96 countries and territories, displaying a sporting pedigree that’s punching well above its own weight.
The Commonwealth Values
This year more than 4,500 athletes (that’s almost half Nauru’s population, by the way) will come together, collectively representing approximately one third of the world’s population. For the first time ever at any major multi-sports event, there will be the same number of men’s and women’s medal events. On top of that, Gold Coast 2018 will also feature the largest-ever programme of disability sport at a Commonwealth Games, proving that, almost a century after the inaugural Games, there is still new ground to be broken in the spirit of humanity and equality.
The words ‘humanity’ and ‘equality’ are used here deliberately, because they make up two of the Commonwealth Games Federation’s three core tenets: Humanity, Equality and Destiny. These three words combine to form the motto of the Federation and serve as fitting descriptors of the sentiment behind the sporting action.
Humanity: we embrace all Commonwealth athletes, citizens, communities and nations.
Equality: we promote fairness, non-discrimination and inclusion in all that we do.
Destiny: through impactful, high-performance sport, we help Commonwealth athletes, citizens and communities realise their aspirations and ambitions.
The motto becomes particularly appropriate when considered in the context of global relations and would be a fitting ideal for anywhere. Sure, The Commonwealth Games bring people together to watch spectacular sporting moments, but they also do so much more than that. The Games unites different types of people, from different backgrounds and different cultures and celebrates not only their uniqueness, but also the connections that bind us in friendship and camaraderie.
Coach Logic is extremely proud that 11 teams we work with, plus many more club players, are representing their countries at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. This is an incredible indictment of the hard work that we, and the athletes, put in to in pursuit of our goals. Amongst the Coach Logic contingent are the Silver Ferns, New Zealand’s women’s netball team. They’ll be hoping to go one better than four years ago, when they narrowly missed out on a gold medal in a 50-48 defeat against Australia.
The Silver Ferns’ Performance Analyst, Bobby Willcox, had this to say about Coach Logic:
Coach Logic has been invaluable to us in our lead up to the 2018 tournament. Players and coaches have been able to watch, analyse and discuss aspects of our game whether in camp or at home. The flexibility the platform gives us to complete our analysis thoroughly will be incredibly useful in what will be a hectic and demanding environment.
We wish the very best of luck to all the competitors taking part in this year’s Commonwealth Games and we hope you enjoy the action.