MIRI: Highlanders living in various parts of the country displayed a strong spirit of unity when they returned to Miri for the 20th Kelab Sukan Highlanders or Highlanders Sports Club Sports Carnival at the beginning of the month.
About 1,500 members of the Kelabit community, including some from overseas, got together to participate in this year’s event over the three days (June 1 to 3).
The competition programme at Kelab Rekreasi Petroleum (KRP) was declared open by Deputy State Secretary Datu Ose Murang while Assistant Minister of Sports Datuk Lee Kim Shin officiated at the closing ceremony.
Lee also contributed RM3,000 for the club’s activities.
Among those present were the club’s patron, councillor Robert Ayu, advisor Ricky Ribuh, president Joseph Radu Rurum, Kelabit president Dato Isaac Lugun, forum president Gerawat Gala, director of Immigration Department Datu Robert Lian (club member) and community leaders.
The opening ceremony saw the bamboo gong struck and cheers from the participating eight contingents — from
Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Bintulu, Limbang, Miri, Bario, Kelapang and Long Banga-Peluan.
The competitions included football, futsal, badminton, volleyball, golf, pool, dart, blowpipe and a few social games. Most were held on June 1 and 2.
“The number of players and spectators this year outnumbered that of the last carnival in 2011 but what is most important is not the competitions but participation that unites the Kelabit community through sports” Joseph said.
“While the main objective is to develop new talent in sports, the carnival is also a good way to unite the Kelabits in a fun way. It is also one of the best times to meet as many highlanders or Kelabits as possible in one place over the three days,” he added.
Due to the large attendance of highlanders at the carnival, some club members took the opportunity to organise reunion gatherings with former classmates as well as celebrate engagement or wedding parties.
“This trend is becoming very popular — like killing two birds with one stone as the saying goes,” Joseph said.
Family members, supporters and friends turned up in full force to cheer their teams in the various competitions.
The dart and pool contest attracted a big crowd of spectators at the Rigs (KRP’s bar). They cheered and danced to the country music from the resident band.
Traditionally, football is the most popular game among the highlanders who have produced state and national players like Pengiran Bala, Herman Bulang, Bobby Pian, Stephen Kiben Tingang, Wesley Bala, Robert Paran, Keryer Maria and Frankie.
The Kelapang team emerged champion in football while Kuching were the runners-up with Bario third.
Long Banga-Peluan won the junior futsal competition for 15 and below youths comprising mainly primary school pupils. The runners-up were Bario with Kuching third.
The boys senior category for secondary students went to Bario with Long Banga-Peluan and Miri second and third respectively.
In the women’s open futsal, Miri contingent emerged champions with Long Banga-Peluan and Bario second and third respectively.
The Long Banga-Peluan team won the men’s volleyball with Kuala Lumpur and Kelapang second and third respectively.
In netball, played for the second time at the carnival, Miri successfully defended their title with Kuching and Long Banga-Peluan second and third respectively.
Other results: Kelapang — tug-of-war champion; Scott David, Pery Muris and Edward Ngitunn — men’s pool winners, and Betsy, Pauline Bennet and Roney Sagau – ladies’ pool winners.
Isaac presented the overall champions trophy to Tommy Agan, the Long Banga-Peluan contingent manager, and other sports awards to Deborah Henry, a Sukma medallist, and golfer Sigar Tidan who successfully defended the Sarawak Senior Golf Open for the third consecutive time.
The carnival is one of the activities organised by KSH. The upcoming event is the KSH Jogger-ton-cum-Family Day in September.
KSH, set up in 1983, has over 5,000 members.