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SUPERCIFIC KILIKITI TOURNAMENT

By Iulia Leilua
 

Kilikiti is a popular sport played among Pacific Island peoples and is derived from the English game of cricket. Unlike cricket however, kilikiti is full of singing, dancing and colourful uniforms with island style rules and mixed-gender team members from all age groups.

Missionaries introduced Kilikiti into the Pacific Islands in the late 19th century from the London Missionary Society (LMS).

The game soon took on its own identity to suit the temperament, attitude and lifestyle of the locals. Without the protective equipment needed for the hard cricket ball, the locals played in their everyday clothing that consisted of a lava lava (a wrap around material worn instead of pants) with a bare top, singlet or shirt.

In Samoa, so passionate were the people about the sport that they eventually claimed kilikiti as their national sport. Throughout the rest of the Pacific, a kilikiti green was a standard feature in the village. Today that passion for kilikiti continues no matter where Pacific peoples choose to migrate.

From America to Australia, regular kilikiti competitions are held between church, village and island groups. In New Zealand, a formal association has been set up to promote kilikiti as a professional sport. Since 1999, the New Zealand Kilikiti Association (NZKA) has hosted the Supercific Kilikiti Tournament - a national tournament with a $100,000 prize pool. Last year it also hosted the inaugural World Cup Kilikiti Tournament in which seven countries competed.

NZKA's Marketing Manager Arena Muaulama says while it was exciting holding a world-sporting event, standardising the rules of kilikiti was their first priority. All seven countries were used to their own rules and needed to conform to a universal code.

"We have developed an exam now that umpires are required to sit," says Muaulama. "That means when we have international kilikiti tournaments here or overseas, our umpires will be qualified and not just plucked from anywhere. Our aim is to raise the professionalism of this sport."

Kilikiti still has many similarities to cricket. It has bowlers, batters, and fielders and two wicket keepers instead of one. But it's there that the similarities end. In kilikiti there are two bowlers operating alternately from each end of the wicket with 20 players per team.

Unlike traditional cricket the majority of the team tend to be specialist all-rounders. Kilikiti also has it's own unique equipment and playing gears not only for the game but for the players. The bats on average are 1.2 metres in length and are a cross between a baseball bat and a war club. These three-sided bats are always colourfully painted and are often hand made to the player's specifications.

Traditionally kilikiti used to take up to three days to complete with whole villages taking part. The NZKA has amended the rules down to 70 minutes, which is perfect for TV. The first team bat for 30 minutes and the second team face the same amount of balls bowled in the innings. Due to the rules being revamped it is not unusual during a

   
New Zealand's National squad - The mighty 'KBlacks'. (Photo: Iulia Leilua)
 
Shoab Akhtar eat your heart out.
(Photo: Iulia Leilua)
 
Swing batter, swing. (Photo: Iulia Leilua)
 
Keep your eyes on the ball. Kilikiti requires a lot of concentration. (Photo: Iulia Leilua)
 
 

Supercific Tournament to have eight games per day. 6's and 4's have also been introduced (traditional scoring is 1's & 2's) to make the game more competitive for both batting and fielding.

Muaulama says having high prize-money stakes also motivates teams to perform more competitively and lessens the chances of the Supercific and World Tournament competitions being duplicated.

The prize-pool money is sponsored by money transfer company Xpresstrac International.

"We want to stand out and have a higher standard of play. We're here for anyone of any culture who wants to participate."

For more information, visit the NZ Kilikiti Association's website at
www.nzkilikiti.co.nz or email Arena Muaulama at: arena@nzkilikiti.co.nz

Supercific Kilikiti Tournament, Auckland


26 December - 5 January 2002.


Five Nations Kilikiti Tournament - Wespac Trust Stadium, Wellington


18/19 January 2002.
 

 
 

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