Sepak Takraw is the national game of several countries in South-East Asia. Both Thailand and Malaysia lay claim to having invented the sport and it is mentioned in Fifteen Century documents from both countries.
The name Sepak Takraw is a compromise between the two countries on the Thai-Malaysian Peninsular: ‘sepak’ being Malaysian for ‘to kick’ and ‘takraw’ Thai for a ‘rattan ball’.
The modern game is played on a ring-court with a net and the object is to keep the rattan takraw ball in the air.
There are several versions of the game and many suggestions as to its origin, but the modern game is governed by the ‘International Sepak Takraw Federation’ or ISTAF, which holds several international competitions every year including the King’s Cup in Thailand.
It is similar to volleyball, but the ball is smaller and lighter and may not be touched by the arms. It also only has three players per team. In some countries, like Burma, it is considered an art form and may be considered as a demonstration sport for one person alone.
It can also be seen as a type of warm-up exercise, but in the countries where it is played Sepak Takraw is taken very seriously – as seriously as any football match. The modern name of Sepak Takraw was adopted in the 1940′s as the game’s popularity took another upswing and spread outside SE Asia.
The big competitions like the ISTAF Super Series, Malaysia ISTAF World Cup and Thailand Kings Cup World Championships are held every year. Furthermore, Sepak Takraw is now a regular sport event in the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games.
Sepak Takraw is now played all over the world and is very popular in the West especially in Canada, the USA and the UK.
The next important Sepak Takraw event is the King’s Cup in Thailand which will be held in Udon Thani in September 2013 between the 16th and 22nd. This event is always widely supported by players and spectators from all around the world.