THE recently concluded 66th Gurdwara Cup and Sikh Festival of Sports was a proud display of culture, sportsmanship and competition in the spirit of respect, friendship and fair play among the Sikh community.
Over 1,000 members of the community, comprising organisers, participants, family and friends from all over Malaysia and Singapore gathered for the final day of the inter-state competitions at Kelab Aman in Kuala Lumpur with the Royal Malaysia Police Sikh Sports Association (RMPSSA) as host for the first time.
(From left) Saravanan, Federal Police Integrity and Standards Compliance Department director Datuk Abdul Ghafar Rajab, RMPSSA president Datuk Nashatar Singh, MSSSC patron Datuk Dr Surinder Singh Cheema, Kerpal and Comm Amar during the opening ceremony.
It was history coming full circle for the hosts since the first edition of the oldest hockey tournament in the country was organised by a group of sports-minded Sikh police personnel from the Central Police Gurdwara Ipoh in 1952.
Back then, hockey was the only sport that was contested, but the annual games which has been held continuously since, has grown to include core sports such as football, badminton, netball and golf, along with additional exhibition games: an Under-12 hockey tournament, kabaddi and tug-of-war, this year.
Organised by the Malaysian-Singapore Sikh Sports Council (MSSSC), 10 of its 11 affiliate members attended the festival this year, with participants from the Federal Territory, Johor, Kedah, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, RMPSSA, Selangor and Singapore.
A Perak player (in yellow) tussle for the ball against a Singapore opponent in the football seniors finals. Perak deservingly emerged champions.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Comm Datuk Amar Singh Ishar Singh, as organising committee chairman, said it was overwhelming to see a large gathering of Sikhs in one place.
“I am sure the founders of the games were some very simple Sikh sports enthusiasts from the Ipoh police gurdwara and they would be very proud that the spirit of the games has brought us here today as a family of Sikhs.
“Of the 30.3 million people residing in our beloved country, we Sikhs make up less than 1% of the general population.
“And we are the only community that has organised a tournament of such a scale without fail for the past 65 years,” he noted.
“There is only one such association under the banner of the RMPSSA and the beauty of it is that we have about 257 (0.19%) Sikhs in the entire police force (130,000) and we were allowed to form this association.
The RMPSSA organising committee who did a fantastic job in hosting the annual Gurdwara Cup games.
“We don’t have a large pool to pick the players from but we have been sending the full contingent for the last three years, because what is more important to me than winning is the participation and the spirit of the games,” he said.
There were high hopes for the RMPSSA senior hockey team who were powered by former internationals Inspector Kevinder Singh, Inspector Baljit Singh and former Penang star Inspector Baldev Singh.
But after starting of with an impressive 3-0 win over Penang, they were overpowered by a young and energetic Singapore and eventually bowed out of the tournament after losing to seasoned opponents Federal Territory.
After four days of competition, Federal Territory managed to defend its position as overall champion for the second year – after Perak ended Federal Territory’s earlier 13-year winning streak.
Perak hoisted the prestigious Gurdwara Cup for the seventh time in the tournament’s history when they clinched top spot in hockey.
Federal Territory picked up three titles from the junior hockey, netball and golf events.
Kirandeep (left) and her older brother Pavandip were named MSSSC’s Most Promising Sportswoman and Sportsman of 2016.
Their junior hockey squad team beat Negri Sembilan 3-1 in the finals to extend their winning streak into its sixth year while the girls managed to edge Selangor 27-25 in a closely fought netball final.
In the senior hockey Gurdwara Cup battle, Perak had upset defending champions Federal Territory in the semifinal 2-1 before edging Selangor 1-0 to clinch the coveted title.
Long considered a platform for development and a source of talent for Sikh athletes to grow and shine, the games continued to give recognition to Sikh athletes for their hard work and dedication.
This year’s award for the MSSSC Best Sikh Sportswoman went to Parvin Kaur Jessy from Penang for her achievements in marathon while the MSSSC Most Promising Sportswoman went to 14-year-old Kirandeep Kaur.
On the men’s side, the MSSSC Best Sikh Sportsman went to Johor’s Navraj Singh Randhawa for achievements in athletics and the Most Promising Sportsman went to 17-year-old Pavandip Singh.
MSSSC president Dr Kerpal Singh Pannu, in his closing speech, reminded members of the community that the games organised for the past 66 years was to promote sports among Sikhs and especially the youth.
The Federal Territory contingent celebrating their success in defending the overall champions title in the 66th Gurdwara Cup and Sikh Festival of Sports. — Photos: C.Y. LEE and LOW BOON TAT/ The Star
With the introduction of the new Under-12 category for hockey, the games took the philosophy of helping to develop sporting talents among the Sikh community for the country a step further.
“We had quite a number of international Sikh athletes in the past but nowadays the children with their devices don’t want to come out in the sun.
“So it was good to see the highest number (10) of Under-12 teams in the competition going at it in addition to the junior hockey and football events,” said Kerpal.
The grand opening of the tournament by Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk M. Saravanan also saw horses from the Royal Malaysian Police stable in the ceremony.
The closing ceremony graced by the Flying Doctor of Malaysia Tan Sri M. Jegathesan was a boisterous carnival-like family gathering that featured a spectacular bhangra performance.
The 67th edition of the Gurdwara Cup and Sikh Sports festival will be held in Kedah next year.
Insp Harjinder Singh (left) presenting the MSSSC flag during the opening ceremony.
Overall Champions Federal Territory 17 Points
3. Federal Territory
1. Federal Territory
2. Negeri Sembilan
3. Negri Sembilan
3. Federal Territory
1. Negri Sembilan
1. Federal Territory
1. Federal Territory
Chardikala Punjabi bt Perak Kabaddi Selection 30-24
Tug of War
Selangor bt Perak 2-0