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Punjabi family of NZ: mom played hockey for India, kids play badminton nationals, dad plays Masters

Meet the Virks (L-R): Rupinder, Aveer, Amreen and Mandeep.

In Melbourne to participate in the 32nd Annual Australian Sikh Games, the Virk family from New Zealand is a sport-loving family.

Mandeep Randhawa, now Mandeep Virk was part of the Indian national women’s hockey team in the mid-1990s. Then a resident of Amritsar, her father was a wrestling coach in the city’s Guru Nanak Dev University. She married New Zealand-based Rupinder Virk, who played badminton. Together, they have two children who play badminton at the national level.

That makes for a passionately sporty family.

This Punjabi family from Hamilton in New Zealand’s North Island spends their entire day around sports. “The children train Monday to Friday. This is apart from their studies. My son plays hockey during the winters. My daughter also played hockey and their mother was their coach,” he tells SBS Punjabi.

Mr Virk has been playing badminton for 28 years now.

Amreen Virk (15), the couple’s teenage daughter is currently representing New Zealand in their Under-17 badminton team. Her brother, Aveer (12) has been playing for homestate Waikato at the national level since 2016.

“My ultimate goal is to represent New Zealand in the Olympics,” says the young Amreen who studies in Year 11 in Rototuna Senior High School. Aveer studies in Year 8 in the junior branch of the same school.

“The children chose badminton over hockey out of their own choice. I’m lucky they chose my game,” laughs Mr Virk, who hails from Khanna in Punjab.

Listen to this interview in Punjabi by clicking on the player at the top of the page.

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