The Head Start Friendship Games
Riad Mahmood 2014/July/02
Why The Head Start Friendship Games?
Competition has the power to bring out the worst in us. It can completely take control of our emotions and make us do things we may look back upon and regret. Such is its impact. The journey of a sportsman is long and not one that assures you where it may take you; such is life too. Playing the game, trying to beat ourselves by raising our own bars, can help us understand why we are playing. Can we just use this participation to learn together as one community of educators and take away from the games nothing more than an understanding and a valuable learning? For this to happen we educators and parents need to exhibit tremendous courage and grace while helping our children accept the outcomes. I see this as an opportunity to collectively educate not only our children but ourselves too, to learn from each other and to share our emotions, appreciate others and build our community.
Expectation comes with preparation and participation. It is natural and lies within the hearts of our children. This expectation or fear of outcome need not dominate the process of trying to be the best we can be. The more we enjoy the sport the better we get at it. What happens after the race or how we help our children manage themselves is what counts. Here we can play the role of educators not only to students of our own school but to all the participants.
They say the difference between the greats and the also ran is the ability to play the game by staying in the moment. Hard to understand and explain but a thought that can be nurtured at this tender age. What we say after the race counts just like what we say before it matters. We have seen some very moving moments so far and we have seen some unproductive ones.
“Head Start has always believed that its students should learn to manage what life has in store for them and sporting arenas are good places to learn to manage outcomes as well as emotions.”
Riad Mahmood, Founder Head Start Educational Academy
The start of the Friendship Games
The Head Start vision was founded in 1984 by Samina Mahmood through the inspiration of her Late husband Perweez Mahmood who was fondly called Tony. The Head Start Friendship Games was founded in 2005 by Riad Mahmood, Founder of Head Start Educational Academy, in memory of his late father who was an avid sportsman and who excelled at football and cricket. The trophy for the Games is thus called the Tony Mahmood memorial trophy.
In 2005, when Head Start Educational Academy began its humble journey, the Head Start Friendship Games were born, thus giving its children an opportunity to participate with children from other schools from an organised platform.
Director of Sports at Head Start Educational Academy, Loynel Johnas (joint state record holder for the 100 metres and former national medallist in the 200 metres) has been with the Head Start sports programme since 2005 and has played a vital role in helping this event evolve since its very first edition. His personal experience as a former champion has helped him understand the value of hosting a games that are well organised, look into the small details that go into hosting various sporting disciplines as well as make sure he has all the right arrangements so that the children can enjoy the games.
Track and field events are what it all began with in the very first edition of the games. Sprinting, jumping, throwing and endurance running are all part of our athletic options.
Introduced a few years ago and is a major part of the games. Most age groups are covered.
It all began with a group of girls taking up the sport and has become a part of the games. For now we have only girl’s hockey.
Will be introduced this year as an official sport.
In our 10th edition we will be introducing tennis to the games.
This sport is growing very fast in our country and a lot of youngsters are taking to it. Golf has been part of the games for four years now and will continue to grow with the games.
We will look to adding more disciplines in time based on feasibility. We are also very thankful to all the schools that have participated so far in the games. Parents and children of participating schools have helped us share our spirit of participation and sportsmanship.
For the games we are all one school or a community that is working towards helping young people develop not only as sportsmen but also as future citizens who can impact society around them.