World Cup fever hits Takaanini

Last Updated : 14 Nov 2023
Watered, mowed and lovingly tended … Sukhjap Singh has devoted hours to preparing the kabaddi circle for the World Cup this month.

Tickets to the Rugby World Cup final in Paris – heaps, tickets to FIFA Women’s World Cup Auckland games - cheap, tickets to the Kabbadi World Cup final in Papakura – free.

The Takanini Sri Kalgidhar Sahib Gurdwara at the New Zealand Sikh Society complex hosts the world’s best kabbadi players on November 18-19.

But what do you do if you have no first-class kabbadi facilities? Build them, of course.

The Sikh Stadium officially opens as part of the World Cup, complete with seating for 2500, though groundsman Sukhjap Singh says temporary seating will be added.

He’s been working hard to prepare the pitch with the best players the game has to offer on the way from around New Zealand, India, Pakistan, the United States, Canada and Australia.

“The stadium symbolises sportsmanship, and cultural pride. It’s a state-of-the-art facility that’s testament to the community’s dedication to promoting sports and togetherness.”

Sports complex president Dilraj Kaur says the official opening will be held on 19 November from 4-6pm.

“This is the first stadium dedicated to kabbadi built outside India, and its opening is an important symbol of our commitment to cultural diversity and inclusiveness.”

The Gurdwara was inaugurated by then prime minister Helen Clark and future prime minister Jacinda Ardern, and 15,000 people later saw the sports complex opening in 2021.

The temple played a huge role during the Covid pandemic, and its sports complex has always been developed with community use in mind.

Papakura Local Board chair Brent Catchpole says the area would be the poorer for it without the gurdwara.

“We talk about diversity, the temple personifies it. The doors are always open, it continues to feed people across the city, and it is always there in times of crisis.

“And every development it has undertaken has been for the community – not the Sikh community, not the Indian community, the community. That willingness to partner with Council for the good of the area is hugely appreciated.”

He says it won’t matter if people have little appreciation of how kabbadi is played. “I watched at the NZ Sikh Games, which are again coming to Bruce Pulman Park later this month, and it’s impossible not to get caught up in the excitement.”

Kabaddi uses seven players in two 20 minutes halves. Points are scored by raiding into the opponent's court and touching as many defenders as possible, before returning to the player’s own side. This must all be done without getting caught, and on a single breath.

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