Sepak takraw, or kick volleyball, is a sport native to Southeast Asia. Sepak takraw differs from the similar sport of footvolley in its use of a rattan ball and only allowing players to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball.
Women's double event at the 2014 Asian Games
|Highest governing body||ISTAF|
|Team members||2–4 players|
|Equipment||rattan ball, synthetic rubberised plastic|
In Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, it is called sepak takraw. In Malaysia, it can be known as sepak raga as well. In the Philippines, the related native sport is known as sipà, while the international version is known by the borrowed terms sipà tákraw or sepak takraw. In Thailand, it is known simply as takraw. In Laos, it is kataw (Lao: "twine" and "kick"). In Myanmar, it is known as chin lone, and is considered more of an art as there is often no opposing team, and the point is to keep the ball aloft gracefully and interestingly.
Sepak takraw is known in many names across Southeast Asia; including Indonesian: sepak takraw; Malay: sepak raga; Thai: ตะกร้อ, RTGS: takro, pronounced [tā.krɔ̂ː]; Burmese: ပိုက်ကျော်ခြင်း, Pike Kyaw Chin; Filipino: sipà, sipà tákraw, sepák tákraw, pronounced [sɛ̝päk täkɾɐw]; Khmer: សីដក់, Sei Dak; Lao: ກະຕໍ້, ka-taw; Vietnamese: cầu mây, "calameae ball" or "rattan ball".
The earliest historical evidence shows the game was played in the 15th century's Malacca Sultanate of Malaysia, for it is mentioned in the Malay historical text, "Sejarah Melayu" (Malay Annals). The Malay Annals described in details the incident of Raja Muhammad, a son of Sultan Mansur Shah who was accidentally hit with a rattan ball by Tun Besar, a son of Tun Perak, in a Sepak raga game. The ball hit Raja Muhammad's headgear and knocked it down to the ground. In anger, Raja Muhammad immediately stabbed and killed Tun Besar, whereupon some of Tun Besar's kinsmen retaliated and wanted to kill Raja Muhammad. However, Tun Perak managed to restrain them from such an act of treason by saying that he would no longer accept Raja Muhammad as the Sultan's heir. As a result of this incident, Sultan Mansur Shah ordered his son out of Malacca and had him installed as the ruler of Pahang.
In Indonesia, sepak takraw was spread from nearby Malacca across the strait to Riau islands and Riau area in Sumatra as early as the 16th century, where it is also called as Sepak Raga in local Malay tongue, at that time some of Sumatran areas were part of Malacca sultanate. From there the Malay people spread across archipelago and introduced the game to Buginese people in Sulawesi. Then the game is developed as Buginese traditional game which is called "Raga" (the players are called "Pa'Raga"). The "Raga" can trace its origin from Malacca Sultanate, and was popular in South Sulawesi since the 19th century. Some men playing "Raga" encircling within a group, the ball is passed from one to another and the man who kicked the ball highest is the winner. "Raga" is also played for fun by demonstrating some tricks, such as kicking the ball and putting it on top of player's head holds by tengkolok bugis (Bugis cloth headgear similar to Malay tanjak).
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). A French historian, François Henri Turpin, wrote about how the Siamese played the game of takraw to stay in shape. Murals at Bangkok's Wat Phra Kaeo which was built in 1785, depict the Hindu god Hanuman playing sepak takraw in a ring with a troop of monkeys. The game was played in its circle form for hundreds of years, and the modern version of sepak takraw began taking shape in Thailand sometime during the early 1740s. In 1929 the Siam Sports Association drafted the first rules for takraw competition. Four years later, the association introduced the volleyball-style net and held the first public contest. Within just a few years, takraw was introduced to the curriculum in Siamese schools. The game became such a cherished local custom that another exhibition of volleyball-style takraw was staged to celebrate the kingdom's first constitution in 1933, the year after Thailand abolished absolute monarchy.
In the Philippines the sport was called "sipà" (or "sipà salama" among Muslim Filipinos) and along with traditional martial arts survived the three century Spanish colonisation. It is a popular sport played by children in Philippines. It was the Philippine national sport until it was replaced by arnis in 2009. Sepak Takraw is included in Philippine's elementary and highschool curriculum. In Myanmar, or Burma, it was dubbed "chinlone", in Laos "kator", "cầu mây" in Vietnam and in Indonesia "raga" or "sepak takraw".
Some of the people believed that many variations of the game evolved from cuju, an ancient Chinese military exercise, where soldiers would try to keep a feathered shuttlecock airborne by kicking it back and forth between two people. As the sport developed, the animal hide and chicken feathers were eventually replaced by balls made of woven strips of rattan.
The first versions of sepak takraw were not so much of a competition, but rather cooperative displays of skill designed to exercise the body, improve dexterity and loosen the limbs after long periods of sitting, standing or working.
By the 1940s, the net version of the game had spread throughout Southeast Asia, and formal rules were introduced. This sport became officially known as "sepak takraw".
International play is now governed by ISTAF, the International Sepak Takraw Federation. Major competitions for the sport such as the ISTAF SuperSeries, the ISTAF World Cup and the King's Cup World Championships are held every year.
Sepak takraw has been a sport at the Asian Games since 1990 with Thailand securing the highest number of gold medals.
The Lao people first brought sepak takraw into Canada when they immigrated as refugees in the 1970s. But the game got exposure outside the Laotian communities and really started taking off when a Saskatchewan teacher, Richard (Rick) Engel, who encountered sepak takraw while living in Asia, included it in Asian Sport, Education & Culture (ASEC) International's School Presentation Program. Sepak takraw was so well received by schools that it became part of ASEC's mandate to help introduce, promote and organise the sport right across the country. In May 1998, after getting many schools playing sepak takraw, and by networking with experienced players, ASEC International organised the first Canadian inter-provincial tournament to include men's, boys and girls teams. By the end of 1998, Engel was sent to Bangkok, Thailand to film at the 14th King's Cup Sepak Takraw World Championships – the footage of which was used to produce a widely used instructional sepak takraw video/DVD, called Sepak Takraw – Just for Kicks.
On 11 December 1998, the Sepak Takraw Association of Canada (STAC) was incorporated to organise and govern the sport nationally. Its office was set up in Regina, SK, where there are experienced players and organisational support, and where it could share the resources and office space of the already established ASEC International, a committee from which has now become Sepak Takraw Saskatchewan Inc. The first annual Canadian Open Sepak Takraw Championships (a national and international tournament event) were held in May 1999 in Regina, SK, and have over the years attracted teams from across Canada, the United States, Japan, Malaysia and China. That same year Canada also attended its first International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) Congress and was accepted as members of ISTAF, which governs the sport globally. In 2000, Rick Engel, Perry Senko and Brydon Blacklaws played for Team Canada and earned a silver medal in the entry level division of the King's Cup World Sepak Takraw Championships in Thailand. Another major milestone was achieved on 3 December 2000, when STAC and the sport of sepak takraw became an official class E Member of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Canada has since contributed much to the development of sepak takraw worldwide, with Engel authoring three instructional sepak takraw books and helping produce five sepak takraw DVDs, while STAC does the publishing. The most notable of these books is Sepak Takraw 101 - The Complete Coaching/Instructional Manual for Sepak Takraw (Kick Volleyball), the third edition of which has also been translated and published in the Indonesian language and released in Indonesia through a government education project. Engel has found himself to be in demand, introducing the sport and conducting sepak takraw skills clinics in schools and sessions at physical education teachers' conferences all over Canada, the US and Europe.
A Japanese team played at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing. While as of 2010 there are no professional teams in Japan, university level teams had been established at Asia University, Chiba University, Keio University, and Waseda University.
The earliest accounts of organized takraw in the United States involve a group of students from Northrop University (Greg St. Pierre, Thomas Gong, Joel "big bird" Nelson, and Mark Kimitsuka) in 1986 in Inglewood, California, learning about and playing the sport in Los Angeles. In the early 80s, Southeast Asians held soccer tournaments that had takraw events in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and California, especially within the Lao, Hmong and Thai communities. Malaysian students attending the University often enjoyed playing the sport on a court on top of the dormitory cafeteria. They taught a handful of curious American students how to play, which in turn inspired Malaysia Airlines to sponsor a US team from the university to attend the National Tournament in Kuala Lumpur in November 1987. The Northrop team played in a bracket of international new teams with Korea, Sri Lanka, and Australia. The US team beat Sri Lanka and Australia to bring home the gold.
Takraw really began to take off, however, in the late 1980s when Kurt Sonderegger, an American working in Switzerland, met a fellow American who showed him a bouncy ball made of woven strips of rattan. The traveller told Sonderegger that the ball was from Thailand and gave him the ball as a gift. Sonderegger was a soccer fan, and takraw had an immediate appeal to him. On a whim, Sonderegger booked a trip to Thailand to find out more. While in Thailand, Sonderegger discovered the actual sport of sepak takraw and was hooked.
Los Angeles's Asian community and Northrop's team had already established a takraw community in and around L.A. Sonderegger moved to Los Angeles, founded the United States Takraw Association, and started a business that sold plastic takraw balls. In 1989, he was sent an invitation from the International Sepak Takraw Federation, and Sonderegger along with a few of the Northrop group travelled to represent the United States in the World Championships.
Rules and regulations
Measurements of courts and equipment often vary among tournaments and organisations that operate from a recreational to a competitive level; international competitive rules and regulations are used in this section. 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.
Takraw is the Thai word for the hand-woven rattan ball originally used in the game. Therefore, the game is essentially "kick ball". The concept of Footvolley originates from Thai Takraw pronounced (Tha-Graw) Also, sometimes misnamed by foreigners as "Shaolin Soccer" however it is an ancient game mainly enjoyed between Thai and Laos.
The sepak takraw sport is played on a similar to badminton double sized court.
Area of 13.4 by 6.1 metres (44 ft × 20 ft) free from all obstacles up to the height of 8 metres (26 ft) measured from the floor surface (sand and grass court not advisable). The width of the lines bounding the court should not be more than 4 centimetres (1.6 in) measured and drawn inwards from the edge of the court measurements. All the boundary lines should be drawn at least 3.0 metres (9.8 ft) away from all obstacles. The centre line of 2 cm (0.79 in) should be drawn equally dividing the right and left court.
At the corner of each at the center line, the quarter circle shall be drawn from the sideline to the center line with a radius of 0.9 metres (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 back line of the court and 3.05 m from the sidelines, the 0.04 m line shall be measured and drawn outward from the edge of the 0.3 m radius.
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 strain 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.
The sepak takraw ball shall be spherical, made of synthetic fibre or one woven layer.
Sepak takraw balls without synthetic rubber covering must have 12 holes and 20 intersections, must have a circumference measuring not less from 42 to 44 cm (16.5–17.3 in) for men and 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 and from 150 to 160 g (5.3–5.6 oz) for women.
The ball can be in plain single colour, multi-colour, and luminous colours, but not in any colour 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.
A match is played by two teams called 'regu', each consisting of three players. On some occasions, it can be played by only two players (doubles) or four players (quadrant) per team.
One of the players shall be at the back; he/she is called a "Tekong" or also known as the "Server". The other two players shall be in front, one on the left and the other on the right. The player on the left is called a "feeder/setter/tosser" and the player on the right is called a "attacker/striker/killer".
Start of play and service
The side that must serve first shall start the first set. The side that wins the first set shall have the options of "Choosing Service".
The throw must be executed as soon as the referee calls the score. If either of the "Inside" players throws the ball before the referee calls the score, it must be re-thrown and a warning will be given to the thrower.
During the service, as soon as the Tekong kicks the ball, all the players are allowed to move about freely in their respective courts.
Faults in the game
Serving side during service
- The "Inside" player who is making service throws, plays with the(throwing up the ball, bumping, giving to other "Inside" player etc.) after the call of score has been made by the referee.
- The "Inside" player lifts his feet or steps on the line or crosses over or touches the net while throwing the ball.
- The Tekong jumps off the ground to execute the service.
- The Tekong does not kick the ball on the service throw.
- The ball touches his own player before crossing over the opponent court.
- The ball goes over the net but falls outside the court.
- The ball does not cross to the opponent side.
- A player uses his hand or hands, or any other part of his arms to facilitate the execution of a kick even if the hand or arm does not directly touch the ball, but it touches other objects or surfaces instead when doing so.
Serving and receiving side during service
- Creating distracting manner or noise or shouting at his opponent.
For both sides during the game
- Any player who touches the ball on the opponent side.
- Any part of player's body crosses over into opponent's court whether above or under the net except during the follow-through of the ball.
- Playing the ball more than 3 times in succession.
- The ball touches the arm
- Stopping or holding the ball under the arm, between the legs or body.
- Any part of the body or player's outfits e.g. shoes, jersey, head band etc., touches the net or the post or the referee's chairs or falls into the opponent's side.
- The ball touches the ceiling, roof or the wall (any objects).
An official doubles or regu match is won by best of three sets (win 2 out of 3 sets), with each set being played up to 21 points.
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 best of three regus (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.
International play is now governed by ISTAF, the International Sepak Takraw Federation Serving: Teams alternate serve every three points, regardless of who wins the points. I.e., each team serves three times, then the other team serves three times, and so on. If a tie takes place at 21-21, each team alternates one serve each until a winner is determined.
Set: each set is won by the side which scores 21 points with a minimum lead of two points to a ceiling of 25 points. In the event of a 21-21 tie, the set shall be won by the side which gets a lead of two points, or when a side reaches 25 points (whichever occurs first).
Match: a match is won by the team who has won two sets. A team event match is won by the team that wins two regus.
Ranking: in group stages of tournaments or team events (round robin) the ranking in a group is determined by: 1. Sum of match wins; a match win gives 1 point 2. Sum set points 3. Point difference +/-
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