Gate­ball be­com­ing a hit in New Zealand

Auckland City Harbour News - - OUT & ABOUT - FELIC­ITY REID

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.

FELIC­ITY REID

Shan­non Den­nerly play­ing gate­ball at Taka­puna Cro­quet Club.

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