SaltWire E-Edition

Clearing a Path for the Pure Fun of Sport


On a chilly Saturday in March, members of the Bangladesh Community Association of Nova Scotia gathered to play badminton at a community centre in HRM.

It was a beautiful sight.

Adults and children playing together, and against each other, in a welcoming space. The energy and smiles told the story. Everyone was having fun regardless of their level of play.

We often think about sport as organized, with a structured schedule in which participants register in advance, show up for practices, and play at predetermined times solely against others their own age.

So to watch young versus old, parent or grandparent versus child, free to decide the rules or make them up as they went along was refreshing. In all the years I’ve been involved in sport, I have never seen such an inclusive, safe, familyoriented event where sport and fun shared top billing. The Bangladeshi association believes in community sport opportunities, and I learned that meant their entire community.

Their challenge, much the same as for other groups who exist outside the traditional structured system, is gaining access. Many facilities offer programming, but groups who simply want a place to carry out their own programs, to be physically active and engage in sport, face barriers.

For example, who is willing to help with navigating what can be a complex registration system?

On the night I attended, the group was over 50 strong, crowded into half the gym. When I asked about the large number of participants and the limited amount of room, I was told that phone calls to request more space are met with automated voice messages directing callers to websites. For people who aren’t computer literate or have questions about registering, or if there is a language barrier, the process seems complicated and impersonal and leads to callers giving up.

Through learning from groups like the Bangladesh Community Association, connections can be made and barriers to participating in sport can be removed.

After the event in the gym, a cultural meal and awards ceremony was held upstairs. Each participant, from age 5 to 70, received a certificate and/or trophy recognizing their involvement.

Seeing the smiles and laughter, and watching the community members easily engage with one another regardless of age, reminded me how simple and enjoyable sport can, and should, be for everyone.





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