East meets West at new Abbotsford track meet

Vaisakhi-themed track event occurs at Rotary Stadium on April 16

The Valley Royals are combining traditional track and field events with Vaisakhi celebrations at Rotary Stadium later this month. All ages and abilities can compete.

The Valley Royals are combining traditional track and field events with Vaisakhi celebrations at Rotary Stadium later this month. All ages and abilities can compete.

The Valley Royals Track and Field Club is set to celebrate Vaisakhi in a unique way later this month.

The first-ever Vaisakhi Track and Field Meet takes place at Rotary Stadium on April 15, and organizers promise to infuse traditional track and field events with a cultural flair.

The event is open to members of the public of all ages and abilities, and there will also be events for those who don’t want to hit the track.

The event includes traditional track and field clinics such as: how to race walk, how to throw shot put, and how to use blocks in racing. Training will be provided to participants giving them the chance to learn proper technique and then try the event for fun.

Some of the events include: running, hurdles, relays, shot put, long jump and high jump. On-site registration will be available at Rotary Stadium on the day of the event.

Also showcased will be East-Indian athletic events such as gatka and kabbadi.

The martial art of gatka is a traditional form of combat-training, developed by Sikhs, in which curved wooden sticks are used to simulate swords in sparring matches.

Kabbadi is a team contact sport that originated in ancient India that combines the art of wrestling, the strength of rugby and the thrill of tag. The game is played with two teams of seven players who take turns running across the center line to the other team’s half of the court, tagging members of the other team, and running back. The more opposing team members that they can tag, the more points they score. However, if the opposing team can physically prevent them from crossing back to their side of the court, they score no points.

Non-competitive demonstration events will also be offered such as: tug-of-war, race walking, family relays, races and throws.

There will be a cultural celebration break in the middle of the day that will include free food, entertainment, bhangra dancing and henna hand-painting.

Members of the Sikh Temple will be providing a free Samosa lunch, on location, for everyone who attends the meet as a spectator or participant.

As a symbol of the equality of all human beings, the lunch will be served in the traditional way: all participants remove their shoes, cover their heads with a scarf (provided) and are seated on mats on the ground where their meal will be brought to them by servers. Tables and chairs will be available for individuals who are elderly or physically-challenged.

Abbotsford dignitaries will award prizes to the top eight finishers in each event. Door prizes will be drawn throughout the day for event participants and volunteers.

The event is looking for volunteers, and all interested can contact Dawn Driver at dawn_driver@hotmail.com for more information.

There will also be spaces available at the meet for local non-profit organizations in Abbotsford that wish to put up a table or tent and give out information about their group. Those interested can contact Debbie Foote at debbieandabresia@hotmail.com for more information.

Registration to participate in any of the events is $5.

It all goes down on April 15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more details on the event, visit valleyroyals.org.