Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Colour blind

I was invited by the Subang Jaya Community Youth Football League (SJCYFL) to spend some time meeting the children and parents during their one-day tournament at the Alice Smith Secondary School.

I was amazed when I found out that they are all volunteers, everyone plays a part in making SJCYFL a success. The parents coach their kids. They are committed to the growth of their kids.

Here are their core-values:


Unity – We will strive to promote unity among different groups within the community as well as within each team.


Service – We recognize that we do not exist for ourselves and will provide an opportunity for each football team to serve the community.


Discipline – We will use training and games to teach the importance of self-discipline, helping kids to see its benefits for all of life.


Teamwork – We will emphasize teamwork in training and through every player having the opportunity to play in games regardless of ability.


Sportsmanship – We will hold players and coaches accountable to positive attitudes toward teammates and opponents regardless of outcomes.


Family – We will always seek to reinforce the value of family by encouraging family input, participation and support.

It is important to teach your kids to play together with people of all races. It is in a game like this that they would learn mutual respect. I shared with them the story I heard at the State Assembly on how children of different races are fighting against each other for space in their playground. There were no integration and core values (as above) taught to these children, hence the clashes.

When I was younger, I was told that children are 'colour blind'. They do not know how to discriminate against one another based on skin colour (unless they were taught by adults to do so). It is true. I remember when I was in school, I used to play 'getah' and 'masak-masak' with kids of all races. My best friend in primary school is Nadiya. We would go to the library, pretend to fry leaves at the porch - our masak session :), took drawing classes together and many more. We didn't know how to stop playing with each other because we were of different races. She was like my sister.

In the working world, we see the 'otherwise'. Political parties divide you based on race, some even incite the rakyat to do the same. Very sad. For my generation, we were put in the 'sekolah kebangsaan' system. I believe that system was meant to instill a sense of belonging into each child, that this nation is for all of us. In public speeches, some political leaders cloak their intention of promoting a "bangsa Malaysia" with their hidden agendas which go against the spirit of the 'Negaraku'. We sing 'the Negaraku' so often : Negaraku tanah tumpahnya darahku, rakyat hidup bersatu dan maju. Negaraku, direct translation means My Country. I am a child of this nation. This is my country and it's the same for all Malaysians.

To the young people who went through the 'sekolah kebangsaan' system, let's go back to basic. Go back to what we learned in school. Study together, play together, eat together and advance together. To be great, we must learn from the little children. I want my eyes to be like theirs. May my eyes never be provoked to see what the inciters want me to see. I want to remain colour blind.