Sepak Takraw is a spectacular and agile flurry of leaps, leg splits, high jumps, dives and flips as players propel a small rattan ball attempting to kick the ball into an unguarded area of the opponent’s court. It has the striking power of volleyball and remarkable foot skills of soccer (football).As in volleyball, skilled offensive specialists attempt spikes, which involves leaping high above the height of the net and kicking the ball with the foot above the head. The more balanced and graceful players complete a backflip and land on their feet while others overbalance and land hard on their sides. The opposing team tries to block the smashes…with their feet!
Trying it for a few minutes after a suburban game in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, it quickly becomes clear that the sport is way out of my league. It requires a degree of gymnastic agility, flexibility, confidence and foot skills which I will never possess.
However it is a skilled and athletic game to watch with passionate yells of enthusiasm for well executed plays and remarkable feats of recovery in retrieving difficult kicks and conitnuing rallies. Ensure you seek out a game if in Malaysia or Thailand.
At the start of each month during 2012, Travel Wonders features a popular or characteristic game played or witnessed during my travels. Previous articles feature the popular African game mancala, my own personal favourite that always travels with me, Pass the Pigs, the iconic Australian game of Two Up and the Latin American game of dominoes.