Monday, September 25, 2017

Chinlone welcomes Asia and the world

In 1911, Pho Thinn ran away with the circus. According to a 2010 award winning book, he took with him an apprentice and a chinlone. The circus travelled on to Europe, India and America possibly making Pho Thinn the first to export Myanmar’s traditional game.

Iran became the latest member of the Chinlone family. Photo: ACF / FacebookIran became the latest member of the Chinlone family. Photo: ACF / Facebook

He was followed in 1924 by a group invited to perform at the British Empire Exhibition, held at Wembley, London. While visiting they took time out to play at Wimbledon too. Other cultural delegations have seen chinlone travel to China and Thailand but now Myanmar is inviting the world to visit its shores to not only take part but compete in the national game.

The thwack of cane is no stranger to Wai Yaw Sana Jade Pagoda in Amarapura, Mandalay, but next week it will play host to 15 nations attending the second Asian Chinlone Championships from February 14 to 19.

Traditionally a non-competitive sport, chinlone has developed a set of rules and events that allow it to be played out for medals.

“The aim of this event is to place chinlone on to the international sport scene, with international rules and regulations to follow,” said Thaung Htike, deputy minister for sport at the official tournament announcement.

Iran will be among the debutant nations at this year’s event as Myanmar attempts to spread its national game beyond the borders of the golden land.

“We are hosting this competition and inviting the Asian countries because chinlone is not only a traditional sport of Myanmar but it is part of the nation’s culture,” he added.

The deputy minister added that the ministry would be doing everything in its power to project a positive picture of the country to the visiting athletes.

“For the image of the nation, it is the responsibility of the ministry that participants’ needs for health, accommodation, transport and most importantly security will be met,” added Thaung Htike.

In 2013 Myanmar hosted the Southeast Asian Games and used the opportunity to introduce competitive chinlone to the international circuit. For the 2015 Games in Singapore the sport and was retained and gold medals were competed for as a sub section of sepak takraw – the Malaysian and Thai sport that uses a cane ball played over a net.

Read more: A bluffer’s guide to: Chin lone

The first Asian Chinlone Championship was held in November 2014 at Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium in Nay Pyi Taw – a venue built for the 2013 Games. On that occasion 12 nations were reeresented with India, Pakistan, Japan and South Korea coming from beyond ASEAN and a delegation from Brazil from beyond the continent.

Thaung Htike stressed the importance of events like this in order to maintain chinlone’s position at the region’s premier multi-sport event.

“We are organising competitions like this to ensure chinlone makes the cut for the 29th SEA Games [Malaysia 2017],” said Thaung Htike.

The competition is to be filmed and broadcast internationally by a Singaporean country with the hope that the coverage will once again take the sport across the world.

“We will keep trying hard to broaden the international boundaries of chinlone,” he added.

Translation by Mee Mee Myint Thu

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