14 NSW players participated in a Beginner Captains course at Strathfield CC led by John and Penny Park of Hazelbrook CC.
At an introductory session in the clubhouse, participants brainstormed the characteristics of an effective captain. These were then grouped into two aspects: the Team skills and Thinking skills required to captain a successful Gateball team. These were to be the focus of the course.
Participants then headed outside for practical sessions, exploring the different stages of a game of Gateball and strategic play for each stage.
To illustrate Stage One, the platform building stage, two activities were undertaken. One, called ‘Blitzkrieg’, involved players, after passing Gate 1, shooting for Gate 2. Consequences were discussed, before moving onto an activity identifying alternative standard plays, for example the “Gate 2 side strategy”. (All these were identified from old World Gateball Union manuals!)
The concepts of ‘Thinking Numerically’ and ‘Controlling Space’ were introduced and then ‘Space Controllers’, such as slides, bridges and attack balls, were discussed and then put into practice through mini games played on quarter courts. The mini games were devised specifically to challenge players to see opportunities to attack their opposition.
Finally, the group looked at the End Game. Two scenarios were used. The time pressure was horrific – in one scenario there were a couple of minutes left, no balls were on the court, other than one sitting on the goal pole. “Referees” were used and had to caution players about waiting until they were called before playing. Tension was high! As with each stage of the game, the group considered the necessary team or people skills and the thinking skills required to successfully captain.
Star of the show was, we believe, the youngest ever participant in a Gateball event, newly arrived daughter of one of the course participants. At only a few weeks old, her presence was celebrated!
Gateball Australia has appointed a High Performance Manager for Gateball and has offered support for a Captain Development Program in May this year to be held in Queensland. This session at Strathfield complements that initiative by providing a course for beginner captains.
John Park, Level 3 Gateball Coach