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Bringing the UK's Sikh community together through sport

The Sikh Games UK's president and founder introduces this new competition - its origin and mission, and what it means to her community and to equality and inclusivity in the sport world.

10th February 2023

by Mandeep Kaur Moore
President and founder of the Sikh Games UK

In 2019 I walked into a Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) and spoke to a group of mothers who were well-known to me about a great opportunity for them and their children to play cricket. "The training would be paid for!" I said; "the equipment would be given to us for free'", I added. "We would even have ten weeks of sports hall hire paid for".

Blank faces looked at me, until two mothers pulled me aside later that evening. "We know you want to create fun opportunities for our children, and we can try to bring them, but where will they ever play?"

And that was it -  they had planted the seed. And on my journey home I shouted to myself: "The Sikh  Games UK is where these kids will play!" 

An idea all the way from Australia

A concept I'd heard of my whole life from my family in Australia, who had been speaking about the Australian Sikh Games for the last 34 years, attracting 150-200,000 people, was now about to be adopted by the UK.

A series of images depicting sports and personalities of the Sikh community

From forming partnerships with the FA, ECB, Sporting Equals, England Squash, British Powerlifting, British Judo, The Gathka Federation UK, England Boxing, the Army, the Royal Navy, and the Royal Air Force, the team, our ambitions and strategy have grown from strength to strength. 

So, it gives me great pleasure presenting to you the UK's first Sikh Games, which will be hosted this summer at the University of Birmingham from Thursday 3 to Sunday 6 August.

Having used the 2011 census, we split the UK's Sikh Community into 35 areas and we aim to have at least 25 of those areas bringing in teams for the first Games.

In each area, we have a male and female representative that volunteers locally, to engage with all the local Gurdwaras, universities, and professional Sikh Societies to take responsibility for hosting and supporting a sport for their local community to train in.

From assistance with funding, to connecting them with experienced sports club leads for guidance on how to set up sports, and to engaging prospective athletes to sign up, the regional representatives are the go-to for leading their community into the first edition of The Sikh Games UK.

And that was it - they had planted the seed. And on my journey home I shouted to myself: "The UK's Sikh Games is where these kids will play!"

The Games are not only here to host a sporting tournament that brings the community from all over the UK together over a weekend, but to create a model that encourages community collaboration and sports involvement at a local level too. 

So, for the UK's first Sikh Games the competition sports are football, cricket, hockey, kabaddi, track, and powerlifting.

Some of the demonstration and interactive sports you'll get to see and experience are six para sports (football, cricket, hockey, kabaddi, athletics and powerlifting), plus gathka, netball, boxing, squash, judo, wrestling, MMA, e-sports, cue sports and yoga.

The competition will be a wonderful opportunity to not only showcase sporting excellence, but for the community to try out and hear talks by a variety of sport professionals.

We are most empowered when everyone is empowered 

Our mission is to bring people together and create a space where everyone feels welcome.

Within the community, for years the only dialogue about disability has been whether a wheelchair is allowed in a prayer hall, and if it is, where will it be situated?

But when have we ever stopped to think about what our responsibility is towards those with disabilities to make people feel included and to empower them to better their lifestyle through sport and community? When we don't intentionally include, we unintentionally exclude.

If we put everyone in a setting that is accessible, we will provide them with an environment that will allow them to thrive.

At The Sikh Games UK, the first sports you will come across are the para sports, there will be at least six different paralympic sports to experience and learn about during the three days of the Games.

We remain committed to increasing representation at all levels, which is a reflection of the Sikh Games' values.

So let's talk women.

We currently have female representation within all parts of the UK's Sikh Games - on the board, advisory board, ambassadors, sports leads, and regional leads.

The idea is to encourage women and young girls to feel like they have a part to play in the Games. And from their side, women have a responsibility to take part and compete - to showcase to the next generation all the opportunities that are available to them!

As we first build trust, then accountability, we won’t rest until we build those bridges into the disengaged communities and it is until then that we start taking steps into creating playing fields that are reflective of the multi-cultural society that we live in. 

We look forward to welcoming you to the first edition of The Sikh Games UK!

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