Indians must engage in sports to keep fit

Members of the Indian community should engage in sporting activities to not only improve their physical fitness but also enhance their social links, a popular cricketer has said.

According to Constable Wells Albert Ethnic Peoples Community Relations Officer – Waitakere Area, Indians are not as fit as other ethnic groups.

“We are very prone to heart conditions. I promote fitness, competitiveness and continuous improvement,” he said.

Wells has accepted our offer to be the judge of the ‘Best Cricket Player of the Year’ category of the Indian Newslink Indian Sports Awards 2012. His passion for cricket extends from training and coaching to playing for the New Zealand Muthamil Sangam Cricket Team, for who he has won a number of awards and prizes. He is currently the Captain of the team.

Born in Thoothoor, a village in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Wells is a physio-graduate from the Dr MGR Medical University.

His involvement in sports began at the tender age of six, playing cricket, soccer and badminton in the neighbourhood and later at school, district and university levels.

“My passion was to become a police officer preceded sports, since the demand on physical fitness and alacrity in the New Zealand Police is high,” he said.

Wells was sorry that professional sports persons were not given adequate encouragement and funding a few decades ago in India. However, the situation has changed, with parents, schools and colleges and a number of private entrepreneurs offering patronage and support, he said.

Soon after migrating to New Zealand in 2002, Wells became actively involved in sports and played for various cricket and soccer teams. He trained the players of the MTS cricket team to three finals. He also captained the Kiwi Indian cricket team.

Wells is the organiser of New Zealand Indians Cricket League’s ‘Spirit of Cricket Challenge’ established to promote youth and sports development.

He also coaches cricket for children to develop them as rising stars and better cricketers.

“I want our young aspirants to represent in the highest level of sports representing the nation, playing professional leagues,” he said.

A soccer veteran joins our expert team

Indo-Fijians are so obsessed with soccer that they would give up most social and domestic engagements to witness a match and if the event is between two strong teams, they would take their families as well.

Among such ‘soccer-crazy’ men is Mahendra (Mahen) Singh, who has been involved with the annual Veteran Soccer Tournament since its establishment more than ten years ago.

“It was held as a Festival at Bill McKinlay Park in the Auckland suburb of Panmure,” he recalled with pride as he met us to accept our invitation to join the Indian Newslink Indian Sports Awards 2012 as a judge in the ‘Best Veterans Over 35 Soccer Player of the Year’ category.

A hardened Suva Soccer fan, he hails from Fiji’s Samabula (Nabua), the home of a number of Rugby Sevens players .

His role in administration for soccer began at the Marist Brothers High School in Suva in 1978. He was the assistant manager of the first Eleven Soccer team with players such as Raymond Stoddart (Soccer Commentator) and former Fiji Rep George Samsoni.

Mahen later became involved in Business House Soccer in Suva and managed the Fiji Post team in Suva. When he was transferred to Lautoka in 1986, he carried the whistle as a Referee with Suva Soccer.

He is currently South Auckland Rangers Football Club Manager and New Zealand-Lautoka Masters Soccer Team secretary.

“I love to be involved where good soccer is played in an open and fair environment,” Mahen said.

Keen golfer does bouts too

Mention the name of Faiyz Khan to five people and they would refer to him in five different vocations; a prison officer (Mt Eden), a justice of the peace (and marriage celebrant), a community and social worker who initiates collection and supply of essential supplies to flood victims in Fiji (which is almost an annual feature), a keen golfer and a great boxer (and a greater referee in the ring).

Indian Newslink is one of his passions.

“This is a wholesome newspaper but your sports coverage is horrible; you give more importance to soccer, as if there is nothing else happening,” he said.

As we prepared to explain that we were on the verge of improving things and ask him whether he could help us with boxing and golf reports, he quipped, “The Indian Newslink Indian Sports Awards 2012 is the best thing that has happened to sports readers since you began 13 years ago. I am honoured to judge entries to the ‘Best Golfer of the Year’ category,” he said.

Khan has been a golfer for the past 15 years, playing at least once a week to maintain his handicap of 14.

He regularly organises tournaments for the ‘Fiji Relief 2000’ and plays at all club events, including the three-day National Prison Officers Annual Golf Tournament.

“Every golfer must consistently obtain and maintain his or her handicap by playing at all times. An improved player will not only have a good hit but also maintain a good balanced score after 18 holes of golf,” he said.

Khan said it was wrong for people to think that golf was for retired people.

“That was my impression too, but little did I know it not only requires skills but also good thinking during a typical four-hour game. An average golfer walks up to seven kms during a game,” he said.

Nothing but soccer for decades

Gyanandra Kumar, our Judge in the ‘Under 20 Soccer Player of the Year’ category, has been connected with soccer since his formative years. He has played the game at school, youth, district and national levels in his native Fiji, and represented Nadi, Suva and Nasinu District teams in Fiji. He was a member of the Fiji national team in 1988.

He has been involved with the New Zealand Fiji Affiliation Football Club Inc (NZ Fiji AFC) as Vice-President and Secretary and with the New Zealand Fiji Veterans Association as the current Assistant Secretary. He is the Acting Secretary of the Mangere United Soccer Club Inc.

Kumar plays for the New Zealand Nadi Veterans (since 2005) and for the New Zealand Hasbeens. He has won a number of awards including the Fiji Republic Medal (1996), Nadi Blues Sports Club, Nadi Police Soccer Club, Korovuto Youth and Sports Club, Suva Police Soccer Club Nasinu (NTC) Sports Club and the Kapiti Coast United Club (New Zealand).

Employed as a Health Protection and Technical Officer in the Border Health team of the Auckland Regional Public Health Services (Greenlane Hospital), Kumar is an Environmental Health graduate from the Fiji School of Medicine.

He was earlier employed in the Fiji Police Force (Officer), Nadi Town Council (Assistant Health Inspector and Litter Prevention Officer) and Environmental Health Officer at the Kapiti Coast District Council.

He has been a coach and administrator at a number of organisations, including the Nadi Soccer Association, Youth and District Team (Coach), District Team (Manager), Youth Team (Director, Vice-President and Secretary).

In May 2001, to commemorate the International Year of Volunteers, the International Olympic Committee and the Federation of Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) honoured him with a Diploma for his contributions to soccer.

H also received the ‘Coach of the Year’ award from the Nadi Soccer Association in 1993 and 1994.

Outside the sports arena, Kumar is the President of the Manukau Heights Ramayan Mandali and Secretary of the Manukau Sanatan.

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