Ethnic Indian community events usually tend to be based around festivals, religious observances and cultural performances. It is relatively rare for them to congregate around the sport.

But the newly formed Association of Konkani Kiwis of Aotearoa (AKKA) did exactly that – they hosted a sports day at the Lynfield YMCA last weekend. 

“The well attended first edition of AKKA’s sports day at Lynfield YMCA, was a success as we saw strong positive feedback from the community besides multiple requests to organise such events on a bi-annual or quarterly basis,” AKKA Interim Chair Vishaal Kamath told The Indian Weekender. 

Vishaal Kamath

“We saw a balanced mix of kids, youngsters and seniors come together to compete in the spirit of the game. Personally I’m thrilled to see Kiwi “Konkani’s” from all over Auckland anywhere from Whangaparoa to Pukekohe eager to come together and participate in such social events to celebrate the community spirit,” he added.

The association block-booked sports facilities at the venue for badminton, table tennis and carrom fixtures between different age groups followed by a light repast shared by all present. 

“It was fascinating to witness budding new friendships among kids and to see new migrants made to feel at home by the wider Konkani Whanau,” Mr Kamath said.

Tennis match in progress

Interim Secretary Shivani Nilkund said, “The best part of the event for me personally was to see members of different age groups engaging in some friendly yet highly competitive badminton and table tennis matches. Everyone present enjoyed themselves and have requested that this event be held more often throughout the year.”

The association of Konkani-speaking Kiwis was formed in late 2018. The Konkani language is spoken throughout the western coastal belt of India – from Maharashtra, through Goa, Karnataka and Kerala, though in distinct regional flavours.

Prior to forming the association, the informal group did meet occasionally to celebrate the Ganesh festival and Diwali since the early 2000s. “We formed a formal association to have some structure around the group and plan better,” Venkatesh Bhagath, Interim Vice Chair said.

Shivani Nilkund

The success of this event has encouraged the new Konkani committee (AKKA) to plan more events in the coming year, Ms Nilkund said. The association will name a new elected committee in September this year, which is when it will also celebrate the Ganesh festival and Diwali later in the year.