South Sudanese Wrestling All-Stars at Chaplin Reserve, Sunshine: Inner states (Victoria, NSW and ACT ) v Outback states (SA, WA and Queensland)
Even after talking top several people, I remain – as an utter newbie should – largely ignorant about the finer points of South Sudanese traditional wrestling.
In this all-star tournament, the wrestlers and their camp followers are situated at opposing ends of the Chaplin Reserve soccer ground.
The wrestling itself – many bouts – is serious, though doesn’t appear to my untutored eye to be as tricky or technical as that practised at the Olympic Games, for example.
But it ain’t Mexican wrestling, either! Duh!
I’m told the young women self-create the beautiful chants in Dinkan dialect and that they’re all about supporting their teams.
A South Sudan take on We Are The Champions?
Hmmm, dunno about that!
But work of these singing queens is certainly more soulful, beautiful, stirring – and just plain better – than anything ever dreamed up by Freddie Mercury and Co; IMO!
While the athletes and their retinues were loud and proud in their finery, it is also notable that very many spectators among the big, happy crowd also are dressed to the nines and 10s.
What’s it all about?
I love it!
New pal Emily Yuille, who is very active in Melbourne’s South Sudanese community, provided the following appreciation!
“Wrestling is a contest traditionally between young men of the Dinka and Mundri tribes in South Sudan.
“Sport plays an important role in the lives of young South Sudanese people with wrestling being one of the greatest and most popular. People love it.
“While largely unheard of in Australia, the past several years has seen the sport grow across the country, with teams in most states: Queensland – Maroons
Canberra (ACT) – Powerhouse, Melbourne – Lions, Adelaide (SA) – Cobras, NSW – Blue Warriors, Perth (WA) – Western Empire.
“The contest is all about showing strength. The contestants don’t hit each other. Using their strength they force someone to the ground and if you’re still standing, that means you win. There is no harm to done each other.
“Wrestling matches happen in three-minute bouts, with a draw declared if neither competitor can force their rival to the ground.
“For many, competing is often a rite of passage. In some families, people’s grandfather or uncle could also be a wrestler, so it goes down the generations.
“When you start wrestling for a championship, it means that they are a young man growing up and get to leave your family and your youth life.
“While only men compete in South Sudanese wrestling, the women play a valuable role during competitions, often providing encouragement and songs of support in their native languages.
“They make songs for their champions to give them morale and energy, they sing in Dinkan dialect, which also teaches the younger kids how to sing and communicate in their language and get connected with their culture.”
The South Sudanese Australian Traditional Wrestling Association Facebook page is here.
Go here for a short SBS story and film about South Sudan wrestling.