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The decline in urban growth combined with high expectations, increased inter-town rivalries in the area. Many of these rivalries were played out on the sports fields. Because of the significant non-Men­ nonite population in most towns, sport was considered an integral part of the community, building the health and character of its young people.

The performance of a town's sport teams was seen to reflect the moral character of the town and sport was taken very seriously. In the early 20th century football (soccer) and hockey were the most popular sports, as teams from Plum Coulee, Rosenfeld, Altona, Winkler and Gretna travelled to rival towns on special sports days to battle for town honours. By 1910 soccer had given way to baseball and Gretna and Plum Coulee regularly fielded strong teams. In the 1920's Gretna and Neche, Gretna's sister town across the border, jointly entered a team called the "Internationals" in a semi-professional league.

Town rivalries, however, also took less playful forms. The most intense inter-town rivalry in Rhineland occurred between Gretna and Altona and encompassed the dispute over the MEl.

Gretna vs. Altona Hockey Game 1904.

Credit: W. J. Kehler