Flying kicks, somersaults, spikes and serves to tighten the hamstrings are all part of the Southeast Asian sport of sepak takraw, and it has captivated sports fans attending the Arafura Games in Darwin.
- The number one rule in the Southeast Asian sport of sepak takraw is that you cannot use your hands
- The hollow ball was originally made of bamboo and woven together, but is now a rubbery plastic
- Putra Malaysia University took gold in men and Indonesia in women at the Arafura Games which ended on Saturday
More commonly known as âkick volleyballâ, sepak takraw is played on a badminton-sized court with gameplay resembling the perfect combination of volleyball and Muay Thai.
Or here’s another way to describe it – it’s like Jackie Chan invented tennis.
Rule number one is that you can’t use your hands.
Australian sepak takraw player Veng Thou explained that the game requires a lot of patience.
âIt’s a huge advantage if you have the flexibility. You have to serve with your foot above your head,â he said.
Besides the impressive aerial maneuvers performed by the athletes, the physical ball makes a very distinctive crunching sound that sets sepak takraw apart from other ball sports.
âThe ball was originally made of bamboo and woven together, so it’s hollow on the inside,â Thou said.
âAs the sport became more popular, the ball evolved. Maybe for the last generation it was just a woven plastic ball, now it has a rubber consistency so there is a lot more to it. grip. ”
âThe sport of the poorâ at the elite level
Originally from Southeast Asia, sepak takraw presents multiple variations across the continent.
However, according to Karen Caballero, president of the Sepak Takraw National Federation in the Philippines and chair of the Southeast Asian Games Federation Women and Sport Committee, the sport is especially special to the Filipino people.
âUntil last year, sepak takraw was our national sport,â she said.
In the southern Philippine islands, children play sepak takraw in almost every community.
However, Ms Caballero said it was recognized as “the sport of the poor”.
She believes that her country’s representation at the Arafura Games and other major international events will provide Filipino children with better opportunities in sport.
âWe recently launched the sepak takraw league of the Philippines and we were surprised to start supporting over 40 clubs across the country,â she said.
Fans are gone wanting more
As the University of Putra Malaysia searched for gold for the men and Indonesia for the women, new takraw fans flocked to the merchandise shelves.
More than 500 woven plastic balls were sold and began to fly in the lobby of the Darwin Convention Center.
“I think we will sell by the end of the day,” said John Newman, whose son Alex is captain of the Australian team.
If sales are any indication of the attractiveness of the sport, sepak takraw has a bright future.