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Tuesday, 25 November 2014 09:01 am

Malaysian games at Vic Uni helping community

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Everything from futsal to frisbee is played at the Malaysian Bersatu Games

IN THE spirit of  bersatu (togetherness), Malaysian university students from throughout New Zealand gathered in Wellington last week  to join staff at the Malaysian High Commission for an annual games tournament. 

The Bersatu Games are a five-day social tournament with a variety of sports from football to frisbee organised by Malaysian students studying in New Zealand.

This year, the Wellington group, hosting the games mostly at Victoria University’s Boyd-Wilson field, decided to do things a little differently – help out their local community as well.

“We wanted to do something good, so we just googled who we could support,” says Kamarul Kamaruddin, 22, president of the Malaysian students club in Wellington. “It’s our way of giving back.”

Two large pink boxes were passed around at each sports event, one collecting donations for Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust and the other for the construction of a mosque and gathering place for the Muslim community.

Groups of students travelled from Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch and Dunedin to play in the games, which this year focused on blending traditional family games of Malaysia with typical New Zealand sports.

One of these games is sukaneka, in which players must pop balloons tied to opponents’ ankles in a bid to be the last one standing.

Salmah Kassim, 47, education manager at the Malaysian High Commission, says her head covering, the hijab, is no problem at all when she plays sukaneka. “It is a traditional game we play back home as a family every year, sometimes more.”

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Hijabs no inhibitor to fun on the sports field

Ahmad Rafae, pictured playing futsal, a variant of football, was born and bred in Malaysia and now lives in Newtown.

He says the games are divided by sex, as in Malaysian culture, physical contact between males and females is not condoned before marriage.

“Females hug each other more in Malaysia than they do here, and kiss on the cheek,” he says. “And us guys, we man-hug a lot and call each other brother.”

Safia Hassan, 21, attends Victoria University and is comfortable wearing her hijab when playing her favourite game of the tournament, frisbee.

Safia says, though not all participants are Muslim, the games organisers are conscious of prayer times – different to her university schedule within which she has to fit her prayers.

The games continued until Sunday evening and the public were welcome to attend, to join in or just watch the sports.

The Bersatu Games at the Boyd Wilson field in Kelburn included women’s frisbee on Friday night, and rugby and netball tomorrow on Saturday.

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Iman Kasim from the University of Queensland in Brisbane has been enjoying the games

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is a journalism student at Whitireia. She previously studied at the University of Idaho and has a degree in Anthropology and International Studies.
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