Express news service
HYDERABAD: Not many people know that there is a sport called sepak takraw. Demonstrating gravity-defying skills, players use their feet, head, knees and chest to strike the ball through a net. It is forbidden to use the hands. They score a point if the ball hits the ground on the opposing side of the field.
India’s recent performances have encouraged the International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF) to reach out. Following bronze at the 2017 World Cup in that city, the Indian men’s team made history at last year’s Asian Games by claiming the country’s first medal (bronze) in the competition. The team had spent two months in Thailand – a powerhouse in the sport – as part of the preparations. But despite the desire of the world body to offer technical support to an academy, the Indian authorities face a roadblock. “The way India played Asiad surprised everyone. If proper facilities are provided for the athletes, I am quite sure that gold in the next edition will be a possibility, ”said ISTAF General Secretary Abdul Halim Bin Kader.
Kader, from Singapore, said ISTAF stands ready to provide “world class” technical support if India opens an academy that trains players and referees under one roof. “India needs an academy where everyone associated with gambling is trained together. If such a project arises, ISTAF guarantees that the best coaches and other trainers in the world will be provided.
But in a conversation with this daily, the president of the Sepak Takraw Federation of India, SR Prem Raj, lamented the lack of space for such a facility. At the moment there are many national camps in states like Assam, Tripura and Goa. The fact that there are none in southern India prompted officials to plan an academy in Hyderabad.
“The game is regularly promoted in Telangana. The girls here are particularly talented. If we have a suitable infrastructure here, many events can be organized without any problems. At the moment, there is no place for such an installation. It is up to the state government to grant us land. If we get it, it won’t take much time to build the academy.
Goa to host the World Cup
India hosted the ISTAF World Cup in November 2017. Kader announced on Friday that Goa will host this year’s World Cup (regular and quadrant) in October. Efforts are also being made to have the sport recognized by the International Olympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation.