The 2013 Australian Gateball Championship was held at Croquet Victoria Headquarters, Cairnlea, 11th – 13th October.
I acknowledge and thank our sponsors, the Australia-Japan Foundation, Toyota, Yakult and City West Water. Your support is highly valued.
The event attracted teams from Queensland, New South Wales, Canberra and Victoria. We were also thrilled to be joined by overseas teams from China, Bali and Indonesia and look forward to competing against them in future events. In total, 108 people played in the event. We were also honoured by the attendance of Mr Gu Qiao, Secretary General of the Chinese Gateball Association.
Bruce McAlister and Keith McLeod, of the Gateball Academy(Queensland), acted jointly as Tournament Referee, and I thank them.
Friday, 11th October, saw a full day of practice with allocated court times for each team. However, there was plenty of mixing as teams invited one another to play “friendlies”. This helped to build relationships between the players and greatly enhanced the enjoyment of the competition.
Two workshops, Growing Gateball into the Schools Community (by Adrian Masterman-Smith and Lowan Clarke) and Referees Workshop (by the Gateball Academy) were also run on Friday.
Practice on Friday was followed, at 4pm, by the Opening Ceremony and refreshments. Jim Clement, Treasurer, spoke on behalf of the Australian Croquet Association.
The National Director of Gateball, Gilon Smith, paid tribute to Mr Keiichi Imagawa (retired Director General of the World Gateball Union) and the WGU. He welcomed everyone and spoke of the build up to the World Gateball Championship being held in Japan in 2014. Gilon then introduced all the teams to delighted applause.
Mr Telmo Languiller MP, State Member for Derrimut, welcomed everyone to Brimbank and Cairnlea, particularly our international visitors. Mr Languiller encouraged us all to embrace the cultural exchange and understanding that this event, and our great sport gateball, fosters. He was singularly impressed by the fact that gateball teams can be made up of players from primary school age to octogenarians and regardless of gender. Mr Languiller was also proud that gateball is played in the country of his birth, Uruguay. Mr Languiller performed the ceremonial hit through the first gate before declaring the tournament open.
We enjoyed memorable and very rousing traditional Japanese drum performances from Wadaiko Rindo, led by Mr Toshi Sakamoto. And Sebastien Harvey sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.
Mr Mike Cohn, President of Croquet Victoria, closed the Opening Ceremony. After the Opening Ceremony we all enjoyed refreshments.
The competition proper was held over Saturday and Sunday, with the teams playing a round robin in two blocks followed by semi-finals and a final.
The teams were:
Block A: Bilbies (Essendon, VIC), Canberra(NSW), Dewata (Bali), Garuda Jasmine (Indonesia), Hunter Plovers (NSW), Tamborine Mountain Raptors (QLD), Terang (VIC) and Waratahs (NSW).
Block B: Badung (Bali), Broadbeach (QLD), South East Queensland Cougars, Fu Jian (China), Kew (VIC), Geruda Permata (Indonesia), Redbacks (QLD), Southport (QLD) and Wombats (Brunswick, VIC).
Saturday was a warm and sunny day. Play finished at 5pm and was followed by a BBQ at the clubrooms, which allowed further socialising between the teams. Sunday’s weather conditions proved a little more challenging, especially for our Indonesian visitors. Cold winds and intermittent rain were our companions. Nevertheless, our enthusiasm was undampened.
Over the two days of competition we saw some truly inspirational passages of play from members of all teams. There were brilliant examples of slides, gate and touch set-ups, accuracy in long shots and devastating long bombards. There were two perfect games, both in Block B, Badung (against SEQ Cougars) and Fu Jian (against Garuda Permata). An interesting tactic that I had not experienced before was the TM Raptors, captained by David Hughes, pegging Bilbies captain Elaine Coverdale out early so that she would no longer be a threat in the game.
TM Raptors were undefeated in winning block A with 7 wins. Canberra, with 5 wins, were runners-up. In Block B, Badung was separated from Fu Jian only by net points, both sides having won 7 of their 8 games, Fu Jian having narrowly defeated Badung in their final block match.
Fu Jian defeated TM Raptors 12-11 in a very close first semi-final, with the Raptors not quite able to come back from an early deficit, barely missing an attempted goal in their last turn. In the second semi, Canberra established control early and maintained it to the end, defeating Badung 12-6.
In a stunning display of gateball teamwork, brilliant captaincy and accurate hitting, Canberra, having found their best form for the finals, defeated Fu Jian 14-8 in the final to become 2013 Australian Gateball Champions.
At the closing ceremony, after once again thanking our sponsors and congratulating all competitors for their participation, I had the great pleasure of presenting the runners-up and winners medals. The event closed with afternoon tea and with the hope we would all be seeing each other again soon.
All participants will have taken something home from the event. Whether it be new friendships, new tactics, new skills, or for some, new medals!
I am greatly indebted to all the volunteers who helped me, one way or another, to present a most successful championship. You have my gratitude and sincere thanks.