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Get your shoes on, grab your jackets, and let’s go outside and play a game popular in Thailand and Malaysia, among other SE Asian countries. Sepak takraw is a ball game played over a net: think volleyball meets hackey-sacking, with some gymnastics moves thrown in.
Sepak is the Malay word for “kick,” and takraw is the Thai word for the special woven, rattan ball that is used. This fast-paced game is played on a rectangular court that resembles a badminton court, and traditionally uses the small ball shown above. Watching the players defy gravity with their bicycle kicks that swing over their head is exciting- and intimidating. With any part of the body except hands or arms, players have 3 “touches” to attempt to deliver the ball over the net onto their opponents’ side and try to make it un-returnable (similar to volleyball). Usually there are 3 players on the court at one time while others wait to be rotated in. A match consists of 5 sets, with the winner being the team that wins 3 first.
According to Sepaktakraw.org, records show that this game was played in Thailand in the 16th Century- and 100 years before in the Malaysian royal courts. There are passionate debates over the origin of this vigorous game, but no one doubts that this game spans the Asian diaspora.
From amateurs, to professionals, sepak takraw is played across South East Asia. Show your own kids these videos, and then head outside with a small ball and try to keep it from touching the ground. Here is a video of kids playing it in Thailand:
For incredible skill, see the final leg of Doha Asian games in the Sepak Takraw game, Malaysia vs. Thailand. Incredible action!
There are many kick-ball type games around the world- have you ever tried Sepak Takraw, or anything similar? Wouldn’t your kids love it?