The more recent Sporto Sventes have encompassed a greater community feel, one of greater inclusivity of the general Australian Lithuanian community, having been achieved by the hard work, focus, and cooperation between participating Clubs. No longer does a men’s basketball team from any club with only three or four available players for Svente, need to hesitate about attending. They are freely supplemented by other participating clubs. Older club members, new members, recently arrived Lithuanians, are all offered a wider range of sports. Those unable to compete in high intensity events such as basketball, have a choice of lower intense activities such as mixed basketball, mixed volleyball, lawn bowls and darts to name a few. As a result, socially, clubs no longer isolate themselves into groups, as has been the case in the past. There is a true Lithuanian flavour that threads through all the activities.
From year to year, and with changing locations, participation numbers for Sporto Svente will naturally vary, but this alone cannot be the only measure of success. Far more importantly, and the greater success, is that we have reached a level where the appeal of Svente and participation comes from a larger cross section of the Australian Lithuanian community, all sharing in common the relevance and importance of their Lithuanian heritage. This is the essence of a secure cultural future within our sporting activities.
Outside of the Australian Lithuanian community based annual Sporto Svente, we have realised that a purely Club based sports competition should be on offer to all Club members. After much deliberation, this has lead to a Club competition where the winner receives the Rimas Mickus Cup. Essentially available to all Club members, the core of the competition lies in the rivalry between Sydney Kovas and Melbourne Varpas! The competition is across three events – men’s basketball, mixed basketball, and mixed volleyball, although this may be changed upon mutual agreement.
The Rimas Mickus Cup in it’s second year was held at Wagga Wagga, late October this year, with Sydney Kovas winning the event over Melbourne Varpas. Some 25 plus members from both Clubs were in attendance which was a great result. Judging by the fun had, next year’s event should be bigger and better! Congratulations to Sydney Kovas and Melbourne Varpas for their commitment in establishing this event as an annual event.
The preparations for the 10th World Lithuanian Games next year in Kaunas are steadily advancing. There seems to be quite a large contingent of spectators and participants willing to travel to Lithuania and a strong all Australian Lithuanian men’s basketball team is guaranteed at this stage.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Fondas for their support, since it would have been impossible to achieve our current participation levels at Sporto Svente without their support. The more sports, the more venues, the more competitors, the greater the cost. The cash incentive to all interstate participants across all the cultural events is greatly appreciated, and decreases the burden of travel and accommodation costs, especially for families.
I would also like to thank all Club Presidents for showing strong leadership, and their committees for their hard work and dedication, and for their total commitment to preserving the Lithuanian culture within the sporting arena.
Finally, I would like to thank those in the Australian Lithuanian community who have embraced Sporto Svente as a Lithuanian cultural celebration through their participation.