The recently concluded New Zealand Sikh Games have amply demonstrated the presence of abundant local sporting talents in the community.
The national level games that brought out some of the best sporting talents within New Zealand’s Sikh community were successfully held over the last weekend.
The games were officially opened on Saturday, November 28, by a battery of dignitaries present on the occasion and finished on Sunday, November 29.
Over 1500 local sportsmen and women participating in 120+ teams and as individual athletes in 17+ sporting categories showed an abundance of young sporting talents within the Kiwi Indian community.
The athletes came from all corners of New Zealand such as Waikato region, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty region, Napier, Wellington, and Christchurch either representing a team or as individuals to compete in different sporting games divided into different age groups, and categories.
The event commenced with a Gatka presentation by a group of young Sikhs followed by a cultural dance performance by a group of 71 dancers of different age groups followed by an official opening ceremony.
Main dignitaries gracing the occasion were Leader of Opposition Judith Collins, High Commissioner of India, Muktesh Pardeshi, Hon Consul of India in Auckland Bhav Dhillon, Labour MP Dr Neru Leavasa, National MP Chris Luxon, former National MPs Dr Parmjeet Parmar and Kanwaljit Bakshi, Councillor for Manurewa-Papakura Ward Daniel Newman, and community leaders amongst others.
Speaking at the event, High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi applauded the team behind NZ Sikh Games for creating a massive platform for sportsmen and women to compete in different sporting games under one banner and starting this format of the sporting festival for the community in New Zealand on the 550th birth anniversary of Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak in 2019.
Daljeet Singh Sidhu and Tara Singh-Bains, president and chairperson of NZ Sikh Games said organising the event in such an enormous scale took scores of volunteers and team members of NZ Sikh Games countless hours of preparation, coordination, making several permutations and combinations to get every element of the annual event in place.
“We have had to advertise and reach out to individual athletes, several sporting clubs in Auckland and around NZ, appoint referees, umpires, register and create a database of all players, calendar 17+ sporting events at different timings and locations for two days, organise competitions for senior citizens, children under 12, fun activities for young children, cultural events, audio-visuals across the grounds, trophies, inauguration ceremony and much more,” Daljeet Singh Sidhu told The Indian Weekender.
Mr Sidhu added that the organisers were sceptical on the registration of numbers of teams and individuals for the games as players from overseas cannot come due to border closures. The team were also nervous earlier in the year about hosting the Herculean event as the second wave of Covid-19 in Auckland had cancelled several events.
He added that due to massive success of the event in 2019 and popularity from its maiden venture last year, the hosts received overwhelming local participation compensating for the missing overseas players this year.
Cricket, golf, netball, volleyball, football, tug-of-war, kabaddi, tennis, basketball, shooting, badminton, athletics (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 5km) and a few more were conducted at four different venues in and around Auckland, Bruce Pullman Park being the locus of the sports festival.
Langar service for visitors at the venue
The hosts also organised langar service at the sports ground in Takanini providing three-time meals, beverages, soft drinks, sweets, snacks for all visitors and participants at the event for two days.
Exhibition on Sikhs in NZ and Sikhism
The hosts organised a photo exhibition in one of the halls at the venue displaying the history of Sikh community in New Zealand, photos from the first Sikh wedding in NZ, first Sikh Temple in the country and legacy of Sikhs travelling from India and settling in New Zealand.
The exhibition also presented posters with the history and spread of Sikhism around the globe, the principles and beliefs of the religion, sacrifices of Sikh Gurus and messages of Guru Nanak for humanity.
The event was not only visited by the broader Kiwi Indian community but also by wider Kiwi and Pacific Islanders’ community who also tried the turban at the event.
During the two-day event, a number of groups presented different cultural dance and live music performances from the official stage. Despite poor weather of Sunday, the attendance of the community to witness the event surpassed expectations of the organisers.
The visitors had travelled from different corners of Auckland and Waikato region for the much-awaited sporting event of the Sikh community.
Promoting the Punjabi Language
NZ Sikh Games released its second annual magazine and distributed an A3 size poster with Punjabi alphabets on it.
The hosts say that through this event, they also wanted to promote learning the Punjabi language, especially for the new generation of Sikh born Kiwi Indians.
Hosts observe guidelines for Covid-19 precautions
NZ Sikh Games arranged and distributed thousands of bottles of water, availed sunscreens, hand sanitisers and free masks at water stations and displayed Covid Tracer QR Codes throughout the venue for people to scan and register their visit.