Saturday, September 13, 2008

Bringing up a champion! (The Sangakkara Story)

Having had the opportunity to read the award acceptance speech of Kumar Sangakkara at TOYP 2008, made me think few attributes which could have assisted in making this world-class performer.

But before I analyse this aspect, let me quote Kumar on his aspirations for the future,

"One of the most valuable lessons taught to me is that the only cruising you can do in life is downwards. To be truly successful you must be willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone."

"It is a lesson I have tried to apply everyday as my ambition is to not to be a good cricketer, it is to be a great cricketer"

This clearly explains the kind of perseverance, determination and above all passion which drives this amazing individual. The kind of stuff which takes you from good to great! Who would argue that he is not on his way to greatness!

So what are the facts which points out towards the making of this champion during his early days.

To quote Kumar again,

"I was fortunate to have parents that always pushed my brother, sisters and I to pursue excellence in all that we did. We were encouraged from an early age to be ambitious and positive"

"Even today, my father is both my most ardent supporter and hardest coach. he watches my cricket closely and is always quick to point out areas where I can improve , even if I score a century. I am very grateful for his support and encouragement"

There would have been many things that would have contributed the making of this man. However this sums up parents contribution in this whole equation. The kind of values that was instilled upon by the senior Sangakkaras on their children.

This again is nothing new in our Sri Lankan society. All the parents want their children to achieve 'the world'. To me the difference in allowing children to choose what they wish to do but importantly inculcating from a very young age the importance of being ambitious and positive. Once the precedence is set and those two important values are stamped in to one's system it drives what he or she does in what ever they do. Contrary to this most parents choose what they think is best for children probably against the wish of the child and then push down this path in different avenues. But instead your basic value system needs to be instilled upon the child for him to apply that in any situation (s)he wish to do so. As parents one needs to set the ground rules and not force the issue with the choice.

Whilst I do not know what Kumar's bother is doing, I remember the time his sister being Sri Lanka's number one tennis player. Those were the days when I too tried my 'raqueting' abilities with my bother at SLTA. During that period she was considered probably Sri Lanka's best. From what I heard Kumar too enjoys a game of tennis. But two children to achieve national accolade and one to reach international honours on regular basis the parents would have played their part to the fullest.

You can clearly see what Kumar profess in certain other areas as well. For those who are regular readers of his column on Cricinfo is must be quite evident that he is one of the most eloquent writers of the game. His articles are treat to read on most occasions. (He has drawn some criticism from certain quarters for sharing too much of game secrets in public). Never the less he has certainly made his mark already in cricket journalism and he is getting better like wine by the day.

Dr. Uditha Liyanage, Head of the Panel Of Judges at the TOYP explained the criteria by which they selected people. According to him people carry both capability and ability. Capability he defines as what you bring with you(your talents). Ability he defines as the "do ability" or ability to transform in to action, in search of results. According to him to achieve significant things in life this transformation needs to happen it is propelled motivated by the rewards.

In Kumar's case, the terminal reward is obvious. He wants to be a great cricketer! Probably the best in the world!

Stepping up to the plate when required

When I received an invitation to be part of the TOYP 2008 I was in two minds to attend or not to attend given that it would take up what ever little time that is left for me to study for the upcoming exams. However given my association with Junior Chamber and specific request by a very good colleague of mine, I decided to be there.

TOYP - The Outstanding Young Persons of Year awards are organized by Junior Chamber International Sri Lanka on annual basis to felicitate men and women below 40 who have accomplished things in 10 disciplines. They started the program way back 1980 in Sri Lanka and every year it is becoming better.

The event was very well organized from the outset. Once I was comfortably seated my friend walked up to me and said he wanted to talk to me. He took an envelope out of his jacket and said one of the recipients, Kumar Sangakkara, to be exact, who have won the most outstanding sports person of the year award is in Australia nursing an injury and that there was a lady that has come to accept the award on his behalf and for me to read out the acceptance speech.

Now, reading up a piece of paper is no big deal, but doing it under spotlight and camera is totally another thing all together with few minutes of notice. (There were reasons for me not to walk up to the stage which are beyond the reasoning of this thread).

Two things crossed by mind at that point. My friends had great faith in me that I would do justice to the man who won the coveted title in his absence. Secondly it was an opportunity try something out which I like to do in real life.

Hope I did justice to the man and his speech by reading it out the way it should......those at the audience told me it was good......seeing the clip would tell me how I fared within that 1 -2 minutes under spotlight.