Anticipating record attendance in November, the organisers of the fifth New Zealand Sikh Games aim to raise awareness about the community’s discrimination in the country.
The two-day event, scheduled for 25 and 26 November, will primarily take place at Papakura’s Bruce Pulman Park, with additional venues for golf competitions at the Pukekohi and Clark Beach clubs, hockey at ACG School in Karaka, and clay target shooting at a range in Kumeu.
Daljeet Singh Sidhu, president of the games’ organising committee, expressed excitement about this year’s larger and improved edition, as reported by RNZ. With participants expected from Australia, India, Canada, Malaysia, and New Zealand, the organisers are looking forward to welcoming over 40,000 attendees throughout the weekend.
In its inaugural year in 2019, the Sikh Games attracted more than 25,000 spectators, featuring over 30 cultural performances. The event witnessed the participation of more than 125 teams, including 20 teams from overseas, competing across 14 different disciplines.
Kharag Singh, the golf coordinator of the inaugural Sikh Games, delivered a poignant speech during the opening ceremony, shedding light on the challenges faced by the Sikh community in New Zealand.
“Sikhs still face a lot of racism in New Zealand because people here are not aware of the Sikh faith,” Singh expressed. “We are often confused with Muslims because of our turbans and beard. That’s why we are calling these games ‘Sikh Games’, so as to raise awareness about Sikhism, and what it stands for,” he added.
Following the successful second edition of the games held in 2020, the 2021 edition faced delays due to Covid restrictions. Consequently, the organisers made the decision to combine the third and fourth editions, scheduling them for November 2022.
Throughout each edition, the Sikh Games have featured a diverse range of sports, including basketball, volleyball, netball, golf, tennis, badminton, hockey, cricket, and football. Moreover, the games have introduced traditional Indian tag sports, rarely seen on New Zealand soil, such as kho kho and kabaddi, as well as engaging in turban tying contests.
One of the major highlights over the years has been the Gatka demonstrations and competitions. Gatka, an ancient martial art originating from Punjab, India, was utilised as a battle technique by Sikh warriors.
Furthermore, wrestling, shooting, tug-of-war, and touch rugby have also graced the games with their presence, adding to the excitement and diversity of the event.
Daljeet Singh Sidhu, president of the games’ organising committee, told RNZ that, just like in previous years, a dedicated stage will be arranged for cultural performances throughout the two-day event. These captivating performances will encompass presentations by the New Zealand Police, bhangra and giddha (a traditional dance from Punjab), singers flown in from India, as well as entertaining comedy sketches. Moreover, attendees will be treated to complimentary food, and there will be informative exhibitions aimed at raising awareness about Sikhism and the Sikh way of life.
Sidhu also highlighted the New Zealand Police’s active participation in the event each year. They set up a booth to enlighten the public about their recruitment processes and offer valuable information on crime prevention, given that many members of the Sikh community are business owners.
The annual New Zealand Sikh Games proudly hold the distinction of being the largest sporting event organised by the Indian community in the country. As a warm invitation, Sidhu urged everyone to come and enjoy the remarkable talents showcased at the event.