“One Team, One Spirit.”
Those were the words emblazoned on the white t-shirts of the energetic young Ismailis who were led on stage by a stately marching band — twirling batons, clashing cymbals and beating drums, under a sky lit up with fireworks.
» About the Jubilee Games Fanous
In the embrace of the elegant white Dahisar Jamatkhana dressed in green lights, it was with such pomp and ceremony that the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board for India presented the athletes chosen to represent the country at the 2016 Jubilee Games in Dubai.
The length and breadth of the country had been scoured in search of the most talented young Ismailis, imbued with a spirit of sportsmanship, teamwork and determination. And at the ceremony on 15 May, the India Jamat — roaring with pride — met a team of 109 athletes that epitomised those values, who would represent the country in 12 sports at the Jubilee Games.
“You will be carrying with you the dreams of every Indian Ismaili,” said Zeenat Lakhani, Chairman of the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board in her address to the athletes. “If you fall, we will bruise; when you hit a masterstroke, we will feel like winners.”
“And when you represent India at the Jubilee Games in Dubai, the eyes and hopes of all of us here will be pinned on you.”
Amidst the footballers, cricketers, wrestlers, tennis players and champions of many sports, the crowd was introduced to a young runner who had consistently broken the record set at the Golden Jubilee Games in 2008. They also heard the story of an Ismaili hailing from a remote village, who without any training or resources has been recognised by the army for his extraordinary speed. India will certainly be keeping an eye out for him in Dubai!
Munir Merchant, Vice-President of the Ismaili Council for India, lit the Jubilee Games Fanous. Its light cast upon the athletes as each ascended the stage to sign a personal pledge on the wall.
“It’s hard to beat someone who never gives up,” scribed one athlete. “Nobody said it was easy,” wrote another. And “I pledge to give my 100% and make India proud.”
Profiles of the athletes were displayed on large screens as they ran down the aisles, bathing in the enthusiasm of the Dahisar Jamat. The Jamati leaders of western India and north Mumbai were also present.
AKYSB Honorary Secretary Nazim Hamid reminded the crowd of the vision and mission of the Jubilee Games, and encouraged them to travel to Dubai to participate in the events, serve as volunteers, cheer on the athletes, and mix with others in the global Jamat. Similar events have been planned elsewhere in India to introduce the athletes in every region of the country, and encourage the Indian Jamat to celebrate the 2016 Jubilee Games with great fervour.
“Know this,” AKYSB Chairman Zeenat Lakhani told the athletes. “The entire India Jamat will be cheering for you, supporting you and waiting for you to return home victorious!”