India just won a bronze at Sepak Takraw. Have you ever heard of sports?

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One of the main reasons that events like the Asian Games are expected is that they bring attention to a sport and players confined to the shadows in a cricket-mad nation. While shooting, wrestling, badminton, and boxing have gained prominence in India over the years, there are still many teams that have yet to break through the barriers of popularity. One of these sports is Sepak Takraw. Indian men’s team Regu returned with their first-ever medal after four appearances at the Asian Games.

After beating Iran 2-1, India lost 0-2 to Indonesia in Jakarta, but thanks to Iran’s winless performance, India advanced to the semi-finals. finals, which secured him a medal. In the fight for the final, India lost 0-2 in the semi-final to Thailand, one of the strongest teams in Asia at the moment. In the process, the history of the sport was still being written as the team won the first bronze medal. So what exactly is Sepak Takraw?

The sport is mainly played in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, with each team consisting of three players who can use their feet, head, knee or chest to hit the plastic ball at- above the net, on the ground in the camp of the rival to score a point. . The game is akin to volleyball, except that while volleyball allows players to use their hands and feet, Sepak Takraw considers it a violation of the rules. The teams, or regus, have a striker, a server and a feeder and the main objective is to achieve 21 points which will earn them a set.

The thrower throws the ball to the server, who must keep one foot in the service circle and use the other foot to throw the ball over the net. On the other side, the server and the feeder have the task of passing the ball to the attacker in just three contacts. Once the attacker receives the ball, he must return it to the other regularity. If the pass over the net is missed, the opposing team will be awarded a point.

As the men’s team won a historic medal, the performance of the women’s team left a lot to be desired, losing all three matches in the group stage. The sport has made rapid progress in the recent past, with medals in a few competitions and so it was a big disappointment when the women’s team failed to register a victory.

The origins of sport in India can be traced back to 1982 when New Delhi hosted Asiad. Sepak Takraw was a demonstration sport at the time and it turned out to be a huge success. Two years later, the Sepak Takraw Indian Federation (STFI) was formed and three years later, in 1987, the sport’s very first national championships were held. Over the years, 27 senior level national championships and 22 junior national championships have been held, highlighting how popular the sport has become.

While the game is famous in the northeast, Manipur paved the way for the popularization of the sport in India. Since their debut at the 2006 Asian Games, 14 players from Manipur have represented India in the women’s and men’s teams. The growth of the game can be evidenced by the fact that in 1999 when Manipur hosted the National Games only four states came forward with a regular team of Sepak Takraw. Today 25 states have a fully functioning governing body and with young people keenly interested in the sport, the popularity of “football” is definitely on the rise.

However, taking the game out of passion and turning it into a profession is a whole different ball game. Players like KH Niken and Sandeep Kumar who made their third Games appearances have full-time careers away from Sepak Takraw, while most of the rest of the squad are day workers. Without any recognition from the Indian Olympic Association, the future of sport in India looks uncertain, but despite the obstacles, the good performance at international events is impressive.

The team won a bronze medal in their first international Copa del Rey outing in 2004, but had to forgo Asiad games two years later due to lack of players. In Guangzhou, the men’s team missed qualifying for the quarterfinals after losing a big game, and in Incheon, they finished fifth. The World Series in India saw the men’s team beat Malaysia for the first time, which helped them clinch bronze. Last year at the World Cup held in Telangana, the Indian male contingent won bronze after claiming silver at the Asian Championships.

Bronze in Jakarta will only add to their growing confidence and if players and coaches continue their efforts, Sepak Takraw may be a sport to watch in the future.

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