Traditional Sports in the Southeast Asian market: Sepak takraw

Modern-day sports dominance comes from the west, whether we admit it or not. But few can speak on our recreational ways before football, basketball, and badminton were transplanted to Southeast Asia?

In this article, we cover one of the most engrossing sports from the region, popularly played in the countries of Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

1. About the game:

The sport’s modern version was introduced, developed, and standardized in 1960 when officials from Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Myanmar met in Kuala Lumpur to agree on a name and standard rules for it. It was previously unofficially known as Sepak Raga

Jaring, which was first exhibited in Penang in 1945. It was introduced in the 1965 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur as a medal event. It is considered Malaysia’s national sport.

Sepak Takraw is governed internationally by the International Sepaktakraw Federation (ISTAF), formed in 1988, which is responsible for major international tournaments including the ISTAF SuperSeries (ISS) and ISTAF World Cup (IWC), Malaysia’s Khir Johari Cup, and Thailand’s King Cup.

Sepak Takraw resembles related native sports known as Sepak Raga in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore; Rago and Raga in Indonesia; Sipa in the Philippines; Chinlone in Myanmar; Takraw in Thailand; Kataw in Laos; and Sek Dai in Cambodia. It is also claimed to be related to Cuju in China, Da Cau in Vietnam, Jegichagi in Korea, and Kemari in Japan.

2. Game’s History

In Myanmar or Burma, sepak takraw is known as “chinlone”. Chinlone has played a prominent role in Myanmar for about 1,500 years. Its style is performance-based because it was first created as a demonstrative means of activity for entertaining Burmese royalty. Chinlone is heavily influenced by traditional Burmese martial arts and dance.

In Thailand (formerly Siam), there was evidence that the Thai had played Sepak Takraw since the Ayutthaya Kingdom, at least during the reign of King Naresuan (1590–1605).

In Indonesia, Sepak Takraw is also known as Sepak Raga in the local language in Indonesia. In Sulawesi, the traditional Bugis football game is called “Raga” (the player is called “Pa’Raga”).

In the Philippines, the sport is related to a native game called “sipà” and along with traditional martial arts survived the three-century Spanish colonization.

3. Rules and regulations of Sepak takraw

There are two types of event categories: the regu and the doubles regu. The regu category is played by three players on each team while the doubles regu is played by two players on each team.

3.1 Court

At the corner of each at the centerline, the quarter circle shall be drawn from the sideline to the centerline with a radius of 0.9 meters (2 ft 11 in) measured and drawn outwards from the edge of the 0.9 m radius. The service circle of 0.3 m radius shall be drawn on the left and on the right court, the center of which is 2.45 m from the backline of the court and 3.05 m from the sidelines, the 0.04 m lines shall be measured and drawn outward from the edge of the 0.3 m radius.

3.2 Net

The net shall be 0.7 m in width and not shorter than 6.10 m in length and taped at 0.05 m from tape double at the top and sideline, called boundary tape.

The net shall be edged with 0.05 m tape double at the top and the bottom of the net supported by a fine ordinary cord or nylon cord that runs through the tape and strains over and flush with the top of the posts. The top of the net shall be 1.52 m (1.42 m for women) in height from the center and 1.55 m (1.45 m for women) at the posts.

3.3 Ball

Sepak takraw balls without synthetic rubber covering must have 12 holes and 20 intersections, must have a circumference measuring from 42 to 44 cm (16.5–17.3 in) for men or from 43 to 45 cm (16.9–17.7 in) for women and must have a weight that ranges from 170 to 180 g (6.0–6.3 oz) for men or from 150 to 160 g (5.3–5.6 oz) for women.

The ball can be in a plain single color, multi-color, and luminous colors, but not in any color that will impair the performance of the players.

The sepak takraw ball can also be constructed of synthetic rubber or soft durable material for covering the ball, for the purpose of softening the impact of the ball on the player’s body. The type of material and method used for constructing the ball or for covering the ball with rubber or soft durable covering must be approved by ISTAF before it can be used for any competition.

All world, international, and regional competitions sanctioned by International Sepak Takraw Federation, including but not limited to, the Olympic Games, World Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and SEA Games, must be played with ISTAF approved sepak takraw balls.

3.4 Scoring system of Sepak takraw

A team event or group match is effectively three regu matches played back to back, using different players for each regu. The winner is determined by the best of three regions (win 2 out of 3 Regus), where a winner of each individual regu is determined by best of 3 sets, played up to 21 points per set.

In the last 3rd set the change of sides takes place when one team reaches 11 points.

Point: when either the serving side or receiving side commits a fault, a point is awarded to the opponent side.

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