Gateballers on course

THERE may well be 14 top teams coming to Rockhampton for the 2009 Australian Gateball Championship next week, but local organiser Ethel Hughes believes the Herons and the Magpies will be up there with the best.

Both the Herons and the Magpies are Rockhampton teams and Hughes insists there is very little between them.

“I think the Herons are favourites, but it is too hard to tell; they both should do well,” she said.

Against the best players from Victoria, Canberra as well as a side from Japan, one of the leading nations in the sport, the local players will need to be at their very best.

Hughes said the championship was a team competition.

“In a tournament it is a team event only,” she said.

An important member of each side is the captain who is the team strategist, calling the shots for the members to make.

In the Herons team John Dargel has the role of captain while the Magpies will look to Fay Hagan for their guidance.

The role calls for quick thinking as gateball is not played at a leisurely pace with competitors are given just 10 seconds to receive their instruction and play the shot.

Hughes said that produces a lot of pressure, but the top playing nations like China and Japan make it look easy as players are constantly talking among themselves and offering suggestions to their captain.

“In those teams everybody has their say, but only the captain can talk to the referee,” Hughes said.

Croquet, and its various offshoots like gateball, is based on tactics; however, when the players hit the greens for the championships, it won't be just wise old heads taking part.

Two of the top Rockhampton players, Gabrielle and Allaina Dargel, are still at school, but the pair have been involved in the sport for about four years through their father John.

Hughes said Allaina was not yet at secondary school, but already was showing a nice correct style of play.

“She has beautiful technique,” Hughes enthused.

“Back straight and body still when she plays her shot.”

The rules of the game appear complex, but in order to simplify them for spectators the public is invited to the club, based at the Botanic Gardens, next Friday, October 16.

The official opening ceremony for the championship takes place at 4pm and that will be followed by a demonstration match.

The Dargel girls have been invited to be a part of that demonstration along with some youngsters who are a part of visiting teams plus three of the Japanese team that is attending.

“The two teams will be mixed to show there is no barrier for age or language,” Hughes said.

A commentary will take place so spectators can get a grasp of what is happening.

Competition in the championship will then take place over the Saturday and Sunday.

In those teams everybody has their say, but only the captain can talk to the referee


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