Rocky hosts gateball titles

ETHEL Hughes is one determined lady and that is why next month's 2009 Australian Gateball Championship is going to be a success.

As Hughes would point out, she is only the chair of a local organising committee, but it is that group of volunteers that is committed to proving to the rest of Australia that a national event can be run very successfully at a provincial centre like Rockhampton.

The championship will be held at the Rockhampton Croquet Club, nestled in a glorious spot within the Botanic Gardens, from October 16 to 18.

Hughes said the national gateball championship, which is held every second year, has only been staged in Queensland once before and that was at Caloundra.

For the 2009 event, two locations put forward applications to be host, Rockhampton and Southport.

Hughes said even though they had produced a good quality submission, they didn't fancy their chances of beating the proposal from an area like Southport, which has a financially strong club.

Thankfully she was very wrong.

“We had old-fashioned country hospitality on our side,” she joked.

The success still came as a big surprise.

“We've been working towards it (the championship) for 15 to 18 months,” she said.

There has been good support for the project with Rockhampton Regional Council's workforce assisting in making the venue “picture perfect”.

Despite all the hard work put in by the organising committee, numbers will be lower than originally anticipated.

The committee, of which Hughes is chair, thought they had looked at all contingencies in order to make the championship a success.

“I think the swine flu and the global recession have put people off,” she confirmed.

Only one overseas team has nominated for the event, usually New Zealand and the Pacific Islands send teams.

However, the inclusion of Japan does add a spark as that country is a major centre for gateball, a sport which is a part of the croquet family.

In all, about 16 teams will take part in the event with four from Victoria, one from Canberra and from most areas of Queensland.

“It is the most team's Queensland has ever had (at Nationals),” she said.

“Rockhampton will have two teams, the Magpies and the Herons.”

Some of the senior administrators of the sport are also set to attend.

Hughes said they would include chair of the World Gateball Association, Ono Kiyoko, and the vice-president of Australian Croquet, Steve Jones.

The championship opens on Friday, October 16, with a march past at 4pm, after which demonstration games, with commentary, will take place.

Hughes said she hoped the public would go along to the courts to find out more about the sport.

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