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Keeping it spinning for future generations

Fadhil Yunus

With emerging and modern sports such as e-sports much talked about given its potential and influence, gasing on the other hand is widely known to be one of the traditional sports steeped in tradition and synonymous with the Bruneian way of life.

The sport – also known as top spinning – last appeared in the domestic scene in October 2019 when Pulau Si-Kumbang emerged winners of the Pangkah Regu Top Spin Championship.

In September that year, Jerudong ‘C’ emerged champions of the Pangkah Regu event in the Top Spin Championship Finals held in conjunction with the 73rd birthday celebration of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

The game has come under threat especially with the emergence of e-sports gaining widespread interest among the new generation in the country.

However, the tradition of gasing should be preserved through efforts to educate and raise awareness to the younger generation.

It is a sport which can be played by all segments of the community whether individually or as a group.

Despite the age-old tradition spanning decades, it is rarely seen as a sport of choice for the latest generation.

This September 2018 file photo shows Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin trying his hand at top spinning, locally known as ‘gasing’. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF CULTURE, YOUTH AND SPORTS

The purpose of the game is to spin the traditional item on its vertical axis while balancing the tip.

In the olden days, gasing was typically played during paddy harvesting season and often contested in villages.

The individual holding the longest time with the gasing being spun is declared the winner.

The existence of the sport must be maintained as one of the cultural sports which possess an artistic value.

Such challenges faced by the sport in the country include the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of manufacturers.

Under the auspices of the Brunei Darussalam National Top Spin Association (PERGAB), it is hoped that solutions can be reached and subsequently contribute to the preservation of the sport.

PERGAB, established on December 9, 1987, is an organisation responsible for elevating the local game whether at the national, regional or international level.

In other words, the association is viewed as the backbone of promoting and advocating the sport in the country.

PERGAB President Dato Paduka Haji Puasa bin Orang Kaya Seri Pahlawan Tudin once said that gasing must be preserved where there will be interest and remain in relevance.

The country’s most recent achievements in the international scene was being crowned champions in the Top Spin Championship in conjunction with the Labuan Tourism Sports Carnival in October 2019.

The tournament featured participants from Sarawak, Singapore, Sabah, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and the Federal Territory of Labuan.

The common events being held in the country include traditional gasing, gasing borneo disiut, gasing borneo gurau ditanah, gasing pangkah banyak uri, gasing lunjong and gasing ubah suai di tunggol.

As certain techniques are necessary for gasing players to learn, efforts to protect and provide exposure especially to the newer generation must be increased and such issue should not concern PERGAB only.

The sport has been tailored to modern times as the rope used in the game is now made with nylon or other similar source measuring three to five metres long compared to tree bark during the olden days.

In terms of preparing the facilities for the sport, the Department of Youth and Sports has prepared a venue such as the Top Spin Court of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex.

The involvement of young people in the sport is hoped to continue the legacy of the game amid the technology era and the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the slowdown of the sport.

The convenient approach is to elevate the art of the traditional game so that future generations will not look cynically towards the game which should be inherited from our ancestors.

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