Imagine the most beloved sports team in your country travelling abroad for a prestigious tournament, only to have their bus attacked with rifles, rockets, and hand grenades as they approached a stadium for a match. No, this one isn't about soccer but its all about sports.
Sri Lankan are crazy about volleyball but their national cricket team is widely followed, having developed itself into a global power, winning the 1996 World Cup and winning the Asian Cup in 1996 and 2004. The island nation of 20 million has had its share of troubles in dealing with an ongoing insurgency and being hit hard by the 2004 tsunami but when the Lions take the field, they always have something to cheer for.
Today, on their way into the stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, the team bus was ambushed for a sustained 30 minutes in an attack which killed five policemen and injured eight Sri Lankan national team players, coaches, and an umpire. To put yourself into a Sri Lankan sports fan's shoes, this was like having the American national basketball, soccer and baseball teams attacked and injured while on their way to a match abroad against a top opponent.
This was a dark days for sports, which are supposed to transcend political differences. Its not yet known exactly why the team was attacked but those who launch such cowardly acts should know that the spirit of friendly sports competition is too durable for them to overcome.
Letters from Vagabondia expresses our condolences to the families of the brave Pakistani policemen who gave their lives defending the Sri Lankan team, the players, coaches, and families of the Sri Lankan team, their Pakistani opponents who were waiting to continue their test match against them, and the families of the killed and injured referees from Australia.
And finally, hats off the Sri Lankan team's bus driver, Mehar Mohammad Khalil, whose quick wits saved the lives of the entire team as he stepped on the gas pedal and drove the team to safety. The driver of the trailing bus which was carring the referees was killed along with one of the Australian officials he was carrying.
So, if you're feeling blue that your team is not doing so well or think your life is tough since you don't get along with your coach, spare a thought for those in Lahore tonight who just want a chance to play.
Jai Khalil! Jai Sport!