The game of life | Daily News

The game of life

‘If you have not faced defeat, you will never understand what success means’ - Yuvraj Singh

We cannot ignore the fact that we as citizens of this world are in genuine danger. The human civilization is under threat due to problems both in South Asia and in the rest of the world. We cannot continue to lie to ourselves and pretend that everything is fine.

Jean Gough

The UNICEF, State of the World Children Report, 2015, states that 45 percent of adolescents aged 15 – 19 in South Asia think a husband is justified in hitting his wife for reasons as trivial as if the wife burns food while cooking!. The child sees his mother being beaten and then turns into the oppressor when he grows up.

According to UNICEF, State of the World’s Children 2015, only one in three adolescents in South Asia have comprehensive knowledge of HIV, a Health Care issue, a Social disease.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics Date Centre says that more than 20.6 million adolescents in South Asia are not attending lower secondary school, of which 11.7 million are boys and 8.9 million are girls. This is a grave issue indeed. Without education the youth become victims. They lack the necessary knowledge to survive.

These are hard facts that are undeniable. The question we must ask ourselves is, how do we empower adolescents? Because they are the one group of humans, that can save this world from complete deterioration. The rest of the world has its own problems, but as South Asians we need to solve our own problems.

UNICEF has identified that Sports can be a savior. It is also vital that we give adolescents a voice. They have to be heard. They need to be given the opportunity to express themselves. UNICEF believes in the power of sports to transform lives and communities. This is because UNICEF believes that Sports play an important role in imparting the values of Team Work, Fairness, Discipline and Respect for the opponent.

The Daily News attended a panel discussion attended by cricket sensation Yuvraj Singh. The panel also featured under 19 cricket future stars from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who will be taking part in the Under 19 cricket World Cup in New Zealand next year. The panel discussion was organized by UNICEF South Asia and the ICC (International Cricket Council)

Making the world a better place

Yuvraj Singh and Jean Gough

Here Yuvraj Singh shared his thoughts on adolescence and how we can make the world a better place to live in. UNICEF South Asia, Regional Director, Jean Gough who made the opening statement, shared how the event brought to her mind, her own relationship with her son.

“This event brings me a lot of memories. I come from a country called Honduras. I have an only child, my son, and I want to share with you what it takes to raise an adolescent. I remember when my son was a teenager, one day he turned up with his hair completely shaved, and this was when he was 15. I was shocked because this was not part of my culture or expectations. Then he adopted more styles,” said Gough.

Gough then realized that it took a lot of courage to listen to your own children. It takes courage for a parent to listen. It takes courage to make children see the world from a different angle.

“To me that was a turning point. So I decided to listen more because that is the age, when the transition from childhood to adulthood happens. And at that age, young people are trying to find their identity. It is an age of exploration and an age of dreaming. It took me some time to understand the power a young person has. This is why today this event is very important. It is very close to my heart. Sometimes we do not listen enough or hear enough. I want to tell parents to listen more. I want to request young people to speak more. Sometimes you don’t share enough with your parents. You think your parents do not know enough and that they do not belong to your generation. Adolescence is an age of transformation. It is an age of change. An age of finding your identity,” stated Gough.

According to the UN, Adolescence is the age of 10 – 19. There are 340 million adolescents in South Asia. This is almost 30 percent of the total adolescents in the world.

“What I say is, use the opportunities given to you to share your thoughts, ideas and dreams, and use your energy positively to transform this region. In this region 45 percent of girls between 20 – 24 get married with children. One in five girls have a child before they are 18. How do we understand these issues? By listening more. But why Sports? How can sports help? On the field you are all players. You understand each one has a role to play. Sports builds up team spirit. You learn values through sports. Players come from all kinds of backgrounds. But on the field you are equal. It does not matter if you are a boy or girl. That is the power of sports. This partnership with the ICC brings us together. Our common objective is to reach out to young people,” explained Gough.


Yuvraj Singh is one of the greatest batsmen in cricket history. He is an overcomer. At the peak of his career he was diagnosed with a rare germ cell cancer for which he underwent chemotherapy treatment in the US. But he returned to the game and is a vital member of the Indian team.

Don’t be afraid to express yourself, because what follows will be a wonderful journey- Yuvraj Singh. Pictures by Sarath Peiris

“I think it is very important to give the message that adolescents can change the world. 10 – 19 is a very vulnerable age where you can shift anywhere. I grew up in an environment where I was very lucky to have a father who was a sporting icon himself. My mother and father helped me focus on the sport. Of course there were adversities. My adolescence was a very important time in my career. My father saw I had the talent to play cricket and encouraged me. My father was keen on me taking up sports. I took an interest in many sports such as football, ice skating and Athletics. Bishan Singh Bedi was a huge motivator. When growing up you make a lot of mistakes, but my parents were always there to guide me along the right path. You don’t see a lot of things coming your way, but they see it for you. If my parents had not made those sacrifices I would have been in a different position today. They gave their time for me which was very important,” said Singh.

Singh feels that sports is a great confidence builder as well as an empowering agent. Something he always says is that you should not be afraid to express yourself and Sports gives one the opportunity to express oneself.

“Equality is something I believe in, be it a girl child or boy child. You just go out there and make a difference in your chosen sport. I think through sport we have the power to change this world. Through sports you can bring happiness and support people. The more we talk about Sports and Equality, the more we can make a change. Don’t be shy to express yourself and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Believe in yourself and believe in your dreams. Positivity will bring out the best in you. Make sure you focus on your dream no matter what. Go ahead and achieve your goals,” pointed out Singh.

Unfogettable moment

Singh had a wonderful time in Sri Lanka when he came here as an under 19 player. The under 19 world cup in Sri Lanka was one of the biggest moments in his life. It was his first big tournament. Under 19 is a big stage because it affects your future.

“My advice is don’t be afraid to express yourself, because what follows will be a wonderful journey. I enjoy playing my sport and I believe in myself. What is going to happen is going to happen, so don’t worry about the future. As you grow up and find your own identity, it is very hard to know what you want to do in life. The obstacles I faced when growing up was not being able to fit in, not being able to express myself and not having the right friends. But I benefited from my parenting and teaching. I think it is important for us to listen to our parents and for our parents to listen to us,” explained Singh.

Singh pointed out that adolescents can play whatever sport they choose to play because a sport can bring out those abilities within you, that you have not discovered. “The more you express yourself, the more you play, the more you are out there, the more it is a confidence builder. If you have not faced defeat, you will never understand what success means to you. I am not afraid of failure, I have gone through a lot of ups and downs and I have seen defeat. For me failures are the pillars of success,” added Singh.

Singh further added that when he sees the energy, passion and determination in young people, he feels so much hope. While admitting the challenges in the region are vast, he hopes their energy can be harnessed to create a better tomorrow for all adolescents in South Asia.


Add new comment

Or log in with...