Why I love Gateball

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Not so long ago, I was tasked with finding out what NSW Gateballers loved about the game.  I put out the request to a number of local clubs and this is what they came up with.  Such a range of insightful comments! And interesting to see the common themes: the enjoyment of teamwork, the intellectual challenge, the buzz of decision making on the run, the developing awareness of strategic possibilities, the opportunities to play competitively, the broad appeal of the game.

Thank you to the players who shared the thoughts below. They may be useful when promoting Gateball to others. And in case you’re wondering, the photos are taken from the website archive and don’t relate to the comments shown.

Penny Park
Lithgow Croquet Club

I enjoy playing gateball because of the company I play with. The game is mentally stimulating and you are constantly developing your skills. In particular I enjoy participating in competitions with my team mates.

Gateball as a team sport is a collective all working toward a common goal. I feel valued for my honest efforts. I love the quick response strategy and the excitement of possibilities.

I like that it is fast. I like that you can start with the basic skills following a captain and then build right through to develop all strategic aspects of the game. A team game with such breadth!

 

Gateball is the game I play because it requires a lot of strategic thinking, as well as accurate ball play. I also play bridge and I find similar strategic challenges. A healthy alternative to bridge and like playing billiards but outside in the fresh air.

Since this thinking and planning process is such a strategic part of the play, the game can be satisfying played and enjoyed with people of varying fitness levels. It also has the potential to be played at an elite fitness level.

 

I also enjoy the opportunities to play in tournaments, as I like travelling and as the game is played nationally at the moment there is the opportunity for players of any ability to play in state and interstate matches.

We like the idea of being part of a team, which was supportive, and through this team effort, we enjoy  the bonding and camaraderie experience

Gateball can be played whether there are just two people at a club that play it, or any number of players (usually 10) who partake. All variations do-able

The skills are challenging, satisfying and equally as frustrating as the skills needed in other games

Even practising on one’s own, is like playing the card game ‘Patience’ (good brain training activities,  such as, the need to focus, remain alert/peripheral vision required,  be able to multi-task, show discipline, help with recall).  One AC player finds it just as satisfying, when practising GB alone, as she does when practising alone to do a 4 -ball break exercise (for 1/2hr.  AC Practice), lots of walking!

Gateball has provided opportunities to travel in small groups to the regions, or out of State,  providing company in new places, and sharing accommodation helps reduce costs

Most of us have only played GB for a couple of years. It has been an exciting era, where opportunities to partake in State and National Competitions, have been possible. We realise that era is coming to an end, as competition for places on touring teams becomes more intense. These experiences, have ‘whet the appetite’ of many players, to aspire to remain in a team, or to join such a team, and travel/play interstate and overseas.

Presently, players realise they are helping to develop Gateball in Australia, and that this role is important.  Some clubs have included Gateball in their Seniors’ Croquet Sessions, and also their School croquet programs. A recent new player from the 2020 Seniors GC and GB session likes this game for many reasons, which are stated in this list. [She] identified one concern, which was-she might become bored  standing to wait for her turn, which might then be short lived.

Mentoring new players is important, so they can more quickly move from ‘just waiting for their turn to arrive’ to becoming more actively engaged in what players are trying to accomplish.

New players can join in, knowing that their understanding of strategies will come gradually. They like having a captain and being told where to place their ball. They can partake in their very first game

As the new player advances, the waiting period of ‘waiting for your turn’ becomes more active as the new player starts to follow the game, recognise some strategies, and also the importance of the role they individually play. Their general understanding will naturally be incremental.

Players  transitioning from one croquet game code to the other, can transfer their knowledge of mallet/ball skills learnt in their other game code(s)

Most of us who play Gateball like variety, and GB certainly provides this.

All of us enjoy the short duration of the game (30 minutes) , and also enjoy the quicker turn-arounds, of games and players, compared with the other game codes.

Whilst croquet players have many common skills applied differently (eg stroke close to the boundary line) and each croquet game code has unique skills as well. Gateball has this with the sparking stroke.

Gateballers generally love the chance to recognise and test out their strategies. With 10 balls operating in the game, they have lots of opportunity.

The equipment is lighter, games shorter and the work shared among team members, this enables players with hidden physical disabilities to cope well as Gateballers. There is less impact on their joints. Equipment has been devised to help with some of those disabilities

 


Have been playing gateball for about 6 years now and I think it’s the best form of mallet sport available. Why? It’s a very fast action, fun packed game of strategy and cunning and the whole game can change in a second so it’s pretty full on for the half hour game. I like playing triples or doubles as you get a lot more turns than with the team version but the strategy is the same.

I love it!!!!!

Why do I play? It’s the complexity, what seemed like an insurmountable task when you first start, that’s what keeps me coming back. Knowing where the 10 balls are and the realisation that there isn’t just one move that could be made next, but maybe 5 or 6. Having a plan that seems to go out the window almost every other shot. You need to be thinking and rethinking on every shot. And you need to think fast.

Being able to play with a large cross section of opponents, young and not so.

 

Being able to play with and against international players. Even if we don’t speak the same language our sport crosses through those barriers.

 

Kew Croquet Gives Gateball a Go

On the recent Australia Day holiday Monday Kew Croquet Club held a “Give Gateball a Go” day. The aim was to spread our game to other members of the croquet club and to complete beginners as well.  
 
We had a wonderful day weather-wise and 30 people came to try a sport that very few had every played before.  
 
We had a few from Kew Croquet Club, but also visitors from two clubs (hopefully) interested in taking up the game: Ivanhoe Park and Yarrawonga.  Special kudos to the Yarrawonga members who’d driven a long way to get there.
 
We used a relatively standard approach of having some drills and learning the basic skills first before having a couple of competitive games.  Having learnt from previous experience the emphasis was on teaching croquet players to hit the ball gently and teaching the newcomers to hit it straight….  
 
We also incorporated some drills that might seem more advanced, like deliberately hitting the left side or the right side of the ball.  But this was taken to well by the guests and seemed to give a better feel for the game very early on.  A game learned in Canberra called “International Box” was a big hit.  
 
Philip Brown
Kew Croquet Club
 

New Zealand

 

Dennis Bulloch from the Rose Garden Croquet Club at Palmerston North in New Zealand has recently been in touch with Gateball Australia about a Gateball Tournament which will be held next year in New Zealand. The event has been posted on the WGU website . Dennis has played Gateball at Ripon in England, along with Gateball Australia’s long-standing friend and mentor, Keiichi Imagawa. He also played in Germany and wishes to hold a competition at his Croquet Club in Palmerston North. He has already made great strides, with 25 people playing Gateball at his Club!

Dennis tells us “Our gateball players are able to play three set times per week  (Wednesday and Sunday at 1.00 PM and Thursday at 5.00 PM which provides competition for workers and those still at school) and some go the club to play Gateball of their own accord. We have excellent quality lawns which are quite fast and the sets of Gateball gear are in good condition.  Our gateball sticks vary from ancient but serviceable to modernish but worn.  Something to invest in in the near future!   I’m in the process of organizing a Gymkhana based on gateball for our players. Will let you know how I get on! They seem enthusiastic about the idea.”

A fortuitous link with New Zealand has also been forged through the Southport Croquet Club. The new President of Croquet New Zealand is Kathie Grant. Many Queensland players met her because she is a member of Southport Croquet Club and played in the Mallet Sports Competition this year. Southport players are keen to participate in the NZ event and, for some, this is  because they are closely connected to NZ by birth or through family members.

Previous attempts have been made to establish Gateball in New Zealand. Keiichi Imagawa recently reminded us that he visited Takapuna, New Zealand with Jun Nogami to promote Gateball in 2000 when he was the Director General of the World Gateball Union. Shortly after some NZ teams played at the Australian Gateball Championship in the early 2000s

Our next contact with NZ  is recorded  two posts on our website: https://gateball.com.au/wordpress/?p=2304 and https://gateball.com.au/wordpress/?p=4167

Since that time we have not heard any more and the link to the NZ GB website no longer functions.

Dennis’ recent contact and Kathie’s interest will hopefully see the game on a sound footing in NZ.

Gateball Showcased at Nowra CC

Players from Nowra Croquet Club have shown an interest in gateball and for the past several weeks have been travelling to Jamberoo Croquet Club weekly to learn the complexities of the game. As interest has grown, Jamberoo decided to head south and open up the code to more of the members at Nowra.

6 experienced players from Jamberoo and Lithgow, joined quite a few interested Nowra players on the court as well as several spectators. A fun afternoon was had by all.

After a few short skill sessions with sparking, as always, proving a bit tricky, we played several games. Games started with no penalties for fouls or outballs. As the afternoon wore on most rules were applied and sparking fouls were minimal.

Nowra members remained very positive throughout the afternoon and are keen to adopt this code to their club. Making this possible is the ability to borrow gear from CNSW through Director of NSW Gateball Mary Dunn at nswgateball@gmail.com

Glenda and Manuel Gutierrez
Jamberoo Croquet Club

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Update on Gateball in Western Australia

A four week Introduction to Gateball is at its midpoint in WA.  Eight players turned up for week 1, fifteen players for week 2.

After play at Victoria Park Croquet Club in Week 1, the group was invited to move the Week 2 play to Forrest Park Croquet Club – headquarters of Croquet West. Forrest Park sent out a flyer to all WA croquet clubs inviting participation and that invitation explains the extra starters.

Regular play will now be Sunday mornings for the next two weeks,  and already players have decided to continue after the introductory course, alternating weekly between clubs with the aim of setting up a three-way inter-club competition (the two Parks and E. Fremantle), as more players are gathered.

Several email enquiries this week suggest  that even more new players will turn up over the next two Sundays.

An organisation of independent schools has organised a day, in October for sports groups to introduce their sport to  high school students. Gateball will be there.

Croquet West runs an inter-generation  GC tournament in October. Croquet players  partner with younger generation to expose the sport. Gateball has been invited to participate.

Wednesday evening play at East Fremantle will begin again in September.

More information can be found on the Croquet West Website

Murray Loane