Gateball becoming a hit in New Zealand
New Zealand is starting to catchup in the fast-paced ‘‘brain game’’ of gateball.
With only 10 seconds to decide your next move, and ideally knock your opponent out, gateball is as much about strategy as it is skill.
Promoters have likened gateball to billiards, chess, bridge and a modern spin on mini golf. The sport, which is vaguely related to croquet, has millions of players worldwide but is yet to really take off in New Zealand.
The inaugural New Zealand Gateball Championship will be held at Takapuna Croquet Club on February 18 and 19.
The sport originated in Japan in the late 1940s and was initially played as children’s game, before adults also got in on the action.
It was introduced to New Zealand 20 years ago, but the director of Gateball NZ, Sherrill Dennerly, plans to take the sport even further.
Gateball can be played as a five-a-side sport, as doubles or as singles.
The New Zealand Championship will have teams and doubles competitions across the two days of competition.
The New Zealand event will be played on a croquet lawn, but overseas surfaces range from asphalt to astroturf and indoor arenas.
Teamwork is key to winning the fast-paced, strategy-based game that is all over in 30 minutes.
Players use a gateball stick, similar to a mallet, to strategically touch, slide and spark numbered balls through gates. One point is given for every gate the ball passes in order and two points for hitting the goal-pole.
Three New Zealand teams will take on two international sides from Japan and two from Australia at the Takapuna event, with entrants ranging in age from teenagers to octogenarians.
‘‘It is a privilege for us for Japan to attend as there are dignitaries from the World Gateball Union coming and they have been very supportive of the growth and development of the game in New Zealand,’’ Dennerly says.
With the help of the Gateball Australia, the New Zealand organisation has been finding ways to attract young players and grow the sport.
In parts of Asia, gateball is taught in schools and Dennerly would like to follow suit with plans to put together a junior team.
Shannon Dennerly playing gateball at Takapuna Croquet Club.