Sikh Union annual Sports Day draws record crowd

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Football Teams All Over The Midlands Participated

Over 8000 people gathered at War Memorial Park in Coventry on Sunday 4th May 2014 to celebrate the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi through sport. Sikh Union members invited Amrit Matharu from The Asian Today to join in the celebrations. The day consisted of various sports events from football ran by GNP Sports, badminton, races and kabadi along with trading stalls and a mega funfair. Families, friends, grandparents and youngsters from different ethnicities came together enjoying the community spirit in the sun. 13-year-old Dilair from Northampton commented on how special it was to come from a different town and be a part of the celebration.

Football teams from Coventry, Birmingham, Leamington and Derby joined in the mini tournaments throughout the day. Gad Khalsa Sports from Derby represented 12 of the 53 teams that took part on the day showing a strong organised set up of young Punjabi footballers. The free event is held by Sikh Union every year to raise funds for the club’s various charity projects including the Eye Camp appeal in Punjab, clean water pumps in Kenya and supporting orphanages in India. The first event took place in 1983 with only 94 people, then at a local sports centre before moving to the park since 1996.

The club pride themselves for being a sports event that caters to family and children, different to other mela events. Sports is an important part of the Sikh faith as it involves keeping the body and mind active. Most importantly it brings together different communities which represents one of the club’s key values of sharing the Sikh culture with others.  As well as incorporating Sikh values of sport, throughout the day langar (free meals) was served supported by the Council of Sikh Gurdwaras in Coventry. It was recorded that over 4500 plates of free food was served to the community. 

Amrit spoke to Mayor of Whitnash, Parminder Singh Birdi, who commented “it’s nice to see nice mix of information on health and heritage which is most important for the younger community. We’re no longer Indians, we’re British and this is our country but at the same time we’re proud to British and we’re proud to be Sikhs – so we need to pass that heritage on.”  

Councillor Harjinder Singh Semhi said “it was a great event that has been going on for the past 30 years growing day by day. The Sikh Union help the community locally, nationally and internationally. They have been nominated for The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and I am positive they will get it.”

Ann Lucas, Leader of Coventry City Council visited the event for the first time and was impressed with emphasis shown Diabetes awareness within the Asian community – “Diagnosing is the first step to curing it”.

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