Taking shape and form in the heart of Southeast Asia, Sepak takraw has always been a sport of controversial origin. With stories going back a few centuries, there are many disputes regarding the country that gave birth to it.
Originally, it is believed that the commercial influence of the Chinese crept into the islands of Southeast Asia and brought with it the sport of sepak takraw, which, in simple terms, is known as of “Kick Ball”. There were several variations of the game that evolved from an ancient Chinese military exercise, where soldiers tried to keep a feathered shuttlecock in the air by swinging it back and forth between two or more people. Slowly over time, the steering wheel was replaced by balls made from woven rattan bands.
Although the sport has striking similarities to volleyball and football, the main difference is in the rules governing the sport. Unlike volleyball, in Sepak Takraw players are not allowed to use their hands to play the ball and must use their feet, head, knees and chest to touch the ball. Popular throughout Southeast Asia, it is especially popular in Malaysia, where it is locally known as “Sepak Raga” and in Thailand, where it is called “Takraw”.
Since Sepak Takraw entered in 1829, the Siam Sports Association drafted the first rules of the game. Soon, the association introduced the volleyball-style net and held the first public competition.
The story runs deeper in the Thai country, which has always dominated the sport with the murals at Wat Phra Kaew (the temple of the Emerald Buddha) depicting the Hindu god Hanuman playing sepak takraw in a ring with a troupe of monkeys.
The competitive streak in the sport has intensified with the formation of the Sepak Takraw International Federation (ISTAF) and the formalization of the rules. It was in 1990 that sepak takraw entered the Asian Games and Thailand has since won 22 medals.
India, too, has participated in this event for the last 3 editions of the Asian Games. With Myanmar and Malaysia as well as Thailand dominating the sport, India is yet to make its presence felt in the game and claim medals for the country.
Sepak takraw, having been adopted as an international sport, is now played on a modified doubles badminton court with the net standing five feet above the ground. Each of Sepak Takraw’s two teams consists of three players, each playing a specific position. These are the “Teukgong”, who is the furthest back player on the field, and an Inside Left Inside and a Right Inside, who play closest to the net on either side of the court.
However, the odds for India to stand out this year at the Asian Games in Jakarta seem stronger than ever with the men’s team recently winning silver at the 2017 Sepak Takraw Asian Championship and so they will head to the Islands. binoculars from Jakarta. Palembang with confidence.
India sent a team of 24 to 12 men and 12 women. In the regular male category, India was matched with South Korea, China and Nepal in Group B.
In the regular team event, the Indian team will face Indonesia and Iran in group B. The women’s team was drawn with Thailand, Laos and South Korea in group A of the regular team event and with Thailand, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia in Group B of the quadrant event.
The game known in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei as “sepak raga”, has a simple scoring technique with a team receiving a point for each foul by their opponent. A game of Sepak Takraw is won by the first team to win two sets. Each set is won by the team that reaches the first 21 points. If a set is tied 21-21, then a tie-breaker will be played in which the first team to open a two-point lead or the one to reach 25 points is declared the winner. The game requires agility and requires good physical condition, flexibility and coordination to help win a match.
The game, whose history is steeped in Hindu religion and Malay folklore, has stood the test of time. Undergoing several variations over the centuries, the sepak takraw has now been popularized among the southeastern nations and also travels to African countries, Europe, the Middle East and is obviously absorbed in India as well.
Asiad 2018 will once again witness the celebration of an ancient sport and the best part is that India also has a good chance of winning a medal for the first time in the sport at the Games.