Let's Play Gateball
Gateball was first introduced into NSW in 1986. Our Japanese visitors at that time donated two sets of gateball equipment. The sport of Gateball claims to have millions of followers in Japan, Korea, China and Indonesia in particular. Here a brief description of the game.
The equipment and the court layout is shown below.
An important and popular feature of Gateball is that it is a Team Game. There are five players in each team. They wear numbered jackets and the balls are also numbered. One team plays with the white balls, the other with the red balls. The object of the game is for each player to pass his ball through three hoops (or gates) in turn and then hit the peg. The teams line up at the start. The red balls have odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and red starts with player 1. Then the white 2 plays and so on. The first gate must be passed by hitting from the start line and if not successful the player joins the queue for another chance. Once through a gate, a player is entitled to a continuation stroke. If he hits another ball (called a touch), the player is entitled to a spark. This entails placing the struck ball in contact with the player's ball (not the other way round) and the player then puts his foot on his ball and strikes his ball so that the other ball is sent in the desired direction (say out of bounds, if the other ball is an opponent's ball, or possibly through a gate if the ball belongs to a member of the same team - see the figure above).
There is a time limit of 30 minutes for the game and it is subject to control by an umpire, an assistant umpire, and a score keeper. When the player has passed the first gate, and supposing his ball crosses the inside dotted line, he replaces his ball between the inside and outside lines but distant 10cm from the inside line in readiness for his next stroke. There are many faults (called fouls) that can occur. Some of these are the same as in Croquet. Some are obviously different, e.g. if the striker in attempting a spark hits his foot rather than his ball or he fails to move the sparked ball 10cm or more. Many such fouls result in an end of turn. The figure above shows the girl sparking the ball labelled z, but in following diagrams (not shown) z hits a gate and is deflected back so as to retouch the striker's ball. This is a foul.
A Gateball committee has been set up in Sydney as a committee of Croquet NSW.
We hope to promote the game to the extent that we will be able to put up a team which is capable of providing serious competition to our overseas visitors. There is much potential benefit in this game to clubs and players. As we know there are many players who, for one reason or another, would prefer a more social game and this is certainly appealing in that respect. It is also short in that only 30 minutes are involved. The mallets, hoops and pegs present no difficulty in that they could be readily made here. The balls are a different matter however and presently they need to be imported from Japan at a cost of approximately $200, i.e. about the same cost as a set of croquet balls.