Sepak Takraw – the next sport in Asia
The most athletic ball sport you have ever seen, coming to South Asia and hailing from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, Sepak Takraw. This is an indoor game using a small rattan ball with two to four players per team. The spectacular bicycle kicks and other moves shown for hitting the ball are breathtaking, the precision of every stroke and movement is key and the reflexes to keep the ball in place without using your hands are breathtaking at times.
Asian sport is perhaps the most difficult ball sport that involves opposition and is a combination of soccer, gymnastics and volleyball. “Sepak” is the Malay word for kick and “Takraw” is the term used to identify the woven rattan ball. “Sepak Takraw” literally means “kick ball”. The strange but extraordinary sport has grown so much that it even has a governing body known as ISTAF (International SepakTakraw Federation). The federations’ objective is to spread sport throughout the world and to make it an Olympic sport of the future.
The game begins with the bowler throwing the ball to the cutter who hits it over the net to start the point. Each of the three positions (bowler, striker and server) must remain in a small circle for each serve until the ball passes the net. The object of the game is to hit 3 sets before the opposing team, but if you hit two sets before your opponent wins, you win the game. Each set is the first team to twenty-one. If it reaches twenty all, it is the first team to have obtained a two-point lead that wins the set. In addition, if both teams are on two sets, the last set is only eleven. You are only allowed a maximum of three hits each time the ball comes your way. This means that the third touch must go over the net. A player is also allowed, unlike volleyball, to take three touches himself rather than passing to a teammate. You also can’t touch the net, use your hands / arms (even if it’s accidental) or come out of circles when serving. All of this gives the opposing team a point.
The little rubber ball they use is made from rattan, a substance sourced from South Asian palm trees. When the skin of the palm is peeled off, it leaves a flexible and strong substance – rattan. The substance is then woven into a ball shape and is ready to use. Sepak Takraw is known to have been invented in Thailand in the early 1740s. Bangkok murals depict the Hindu god Hanuman playing in a ring with other monkeys. The game is said to have been played on a ring-shaped playing field before being adapted in Thailand to a rectangular field with more modern features like the rattan ball.
At the Sepak Takraw Championship, 2019 China, the president of the federation dr. charouck arirachakaran said: “You will have the chance to attend a world class event, which is also the effort of the Asian Federation SepakTakraw to elevate our sport to the next level”.
The ambition for the sport is clear and clear and I really can’t wait to see where the sport is heading and I would love to see it globally across the world, played out at a competitive and high level.