Origins of the Sikh Games in Australia By : Gurinder S. Khera Everything has a history. Usually from humble beginnings and bold steps, new initiatives emerge which grow into creatures of substance and significance. So it has been with the “Adelaide 2000 Sikh Games”, a culmination of 12 years of tremendous efforts by Sikhs all over Australia to establish, maintain and expand this unique event which unites our far-flung community through sporting competitiveness, social intercourse and a celebration of Punjabi culture. The small but active Sikh communities of South Australia commenced a friendly intra-state Hockey tournament annually from 1986 contested by the Adelaide Sikhs and Port Augusta Hockey Club. Held initially in Port Augusta, these were fun-filled occasions where the hockey was serious and numerous non-Sikhs also participated with equal vigour and a keen fascination of our unique Australo-Punjabi culture. Bhangra dances and music were intertwined with great curries, meat-pies and beer ! A momentous decision was then reached by the Sikh Society of SA to hold the 1988 Hockey tournament in Adelaide coinciding with South Australia’s Bi-Centenery Year and the official opening of the Adelaide Gurdwara Sahib. Significantly, teams from Sikh communities in Victoria and New South Wales were invited, with Victoria accepting and sending a team to Adelaide. This was partly due to some strong ties between Adelaide and Melbourne Sikhs. The inaugural event boasted 5 hockey teams namely Adelaide Sikhs A & B, Port Augusta, Melbourne Sikhs and the Burnside Hockey Club on whose grounds the matches were played. Through the sheer Sikh ‘competitive spirit’, all games were played with vigour whilst off-the-field social events facilitated a joyful camaraderie and kindred spirits amongst the attendees. The final was not without controversy though and amid the ensuing drama the Melbourne Sikhs emerged victorious. The “Dr. Sardara Singh Grewal Cup” was thus subsequently won by Victoria, and as the new holders they accepted the invitation to host the following year’s tournament in 1989. That pioneering Adelaide event included an informal ‘mela’, a formal Dinner & Dance and importantly a Sikh Seminar & Forum which was the first of its kind in Australia. This is now being re-held here in Adelaide after a 12-year hiatus. The official opening of the Adelaide Gurdwara Sahib and Jor-Mela was the lynchpin which served to re-inforce and highlight the Sikh religion as the key element binding us together as a community. Subsequently, the Sikh Games have had tremendous fruition and growth through being hosted in Melbourne where in 1989 the sports were expanded to include Netball, Soccer & Kabadi with participation from more inter-state Sikh teams, and in Sydney in 1990 where ‘track and field’ events and golf were also incorporated. Perth, Brisbane & Woolgoolga have also hosted the Games with great aplomb and success. With the nascent participation this year of teams from our homeland of Punjab, India along with Malaysia, Singapore, Hong-Kong, UK and others the Sikh Games have fully matured and are truly now on a global stage. This offers perhaps the opportunity to project ourselves into the new millenium with a call for the “World Sikh Games”. Volunteers, anyone ? - April 2000 Please visit : http://www.australiansikhgames.com/ for more information.