Taking a break from the strain . . .Woolgoolga?s champion tug of war squad chill out on Jetty Beach during a training session.
Taking a break from the strain . . .Woolgoolga?s champion tug of war squad chill out on Jetty Beach during a training session.

Tug of war puts Woopi on the map

By GREG WHITE

OUTSIDE of school carnivals, backyard family barbecues and a summer day with friends at the beach, the time-honoured sport of tug of war hardly rates a mention.

Unless you're a member of Woolgoolga's Sikh community where the ancient pastime has made the town nationally famous.

The area hosted the Australian Sikh Games in 2003 and now it has been annointed for another major event with the New South Wales tug of war championships listed for Saturday, December 9, at Centennial Oval, hosted by the Woolgoolga-Coffs Harbour Sikh Sports Club.

"So far we've picked up eight team nominations for the titles but there's always room for more," registration and sponsorship organiser Manjit Sidhu said.

"This is the first state event for the town and will only lead to bigger things."

One of those things on the drawing board is the opportunity to host the Punjabi Sikh Games at Coffs Coast International Stadium in 2008.

"Tug of war had humble beginnings in the area but over the years it's led to great success," Sidhu said.

The sport that had its origins among the sea-faring people of India and later became an Olympic event, first became popular on the northern beaches in the 1980's.

"The teams really started getting serious from 1994 when the bowling club became involved," Sidhu said.

"Under the Woolgoolga Bowling Club name we won state titles before becoming national champions.

"A lot see us as unbeatable but it does happen . . . but not very often."

At one stage two teams were operating but this has been scaled back to one elite squad for next months outing.

"The men take it very seriously and it isn't as simple as it looks," he said.

"We train two nights a week and concentrate on fitness, teamwork, tactics and correct handling of the rope.

"It's easy to get an injury if you don't know what you're doing."

Centennial Oval will have a carnival atmosphere for the big event with Indian curries and food available along with family events.

Nominations can still be made on 0402 926 322 or, if your prefer, email them to: manjitsidhu50@hotmail.com



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