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Hello! You asked about Kumar Sangakkara's speech on the 2009 Lahore attack against the Sri Lankan national cricket team.
Sangakarra starts his speech by telling his audience about the history of Sri Lanka and her people. He is proud of his country's heritage: close-knit families, strong communities, and a fiercely hospitable culture. He describes how the game first provides an opportunity for affluent Sri Lankans of all races, castes and religious beliefs to come together to indulge a shared passion. When the game is opened to the masses, it solidifies the place of this very English game in Sri Lankan hearts. Sangakarra is fiercely protective of the unifying elements of this game. He admits that Sri Lankan cricket players first had to overcome a prevalent national sense of ennui and dysfunction before they could succeed as a national team. However, he draws on the history of his childhood experience to assure us that the struggle to incorporate a strong Sri Lankan identity into the sport has been well worth the effort.
Sangakarra remembers how his brave parents hid Tamil friends in their family home (during the civil wars) and how as a little boy, he was incredulous with joy when he found so many friends to play with every day. His speech highlights this child-like sense of acceptance and camaraderie among Sangakarra and his playmates. Not one of the children cared whether they were Tamil or Buddhist or any other religion: they were all playmates. Such is also the unifying and harmonizing influence of cricket. Sangakarra contends that it was the 1996 World Cup (Sri Lanka won the final, beating Australia) which showed the world that Sri Lankans were able to take a wholly English sport and infuse a strong Sri Lankan identity into its national play.
We were no longer timid, or soft, or minnows. We had played and beaten the best in the world.We had done that without pretence or shame in a manner that highlighted and celebrated our national values, our collective cultures and habits. It was a brand of cricket we were proud to call our own, a style with local spirit and flair embodying all that was good in our heritage.
Here were 15 individuals from different backgrounds, races, and religions, each fiercely proud of his own individuality and yet they united not just a team but a family.
Sangakarra is fiercely unapologetic about his belief that cricket has provided an avenue for Sri Lankans to transcend the brutality of war, torture and persecution. He is adamant that his people can become a peaceful and a proud nation, healing itself from within, and taking its long awaited place on the world stage with confidence and courage.
The sport overwhelmed terrorism and political strife; it provided something that everyone held dear to their hearts and helped normal people get through their lives.
Sangakarra cites the importance of free expression and innovative thinking when it comes to coaching prospective Sri Lankan players. He proudly defends this unorthodox approach as the basis for true success in the game. He is confident that cricket will be even more important to modern day Sri Lanka and that its unifying factor should mirror a new political reality: the true spirit of cricket is tolerance and shared values. Qualities of Sangakarra: he is courageous, forward-thinking, unorthodox and patriotic.
Hope this helps. Thanks for the question.
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