This very impressive sport comes from the Far East and combines elements of volleyball, gymnastics, soccer, karate and even badminton. Asian volleyball is gaining popularity mainly due to its spectacular nature.
The first references to the game come from 15th century Malaysia. According to a legend circulating there, God Hang Tuach was a master of conquering a wicker ball in a circle. The old story inspired the creation of an international game based on punching a ball through a net without using hands. It was in the Southeast Asian region that sepak takraw was born and played in Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia and Singapore.
The official name of the sport and its rules were established during the 1965 Southeast Asian Games. The name sepak takraw combines the Malay word “sepak” meaning a punch or kick and the Thai word “takraw” meaning a rattan ball. In 1965, a net separating teams was introduced into the rules of the game and the basic principles of the game were written down. The Polish equivalent of the name is volleyball, popular among athletes. This discipline is often part of the warm-up in football teams, volleyball, or ski jumpers.
A team playing sepak takraw consists of three players who occupy a fixed position on the court. The roles of the players are divided into serving, passing and attacking. The game starts with a serve made with the foot, and the opposing team has to receive, play and attack so that the ball does not touch the floor on their side. The action can be played as a team or by a single player. Each team is allowed to touch the ball three times during its play. Each fall of the ball on the court means loss of a point, and in the case of a team playing the ball also loss of service.
Victory in the match goes to the team winning two sets, which are played to 21 points. In case of a tie, a 15-point tie-break is played. Sepak takraw is a game that is played without the use of hands, so the ball can only be bounced and punched using the legs, head or torso. The movements that players perform combine elements of soccer and volleyball. Spectacular plays are also played using gymnastics, acrobatics, and karate techniques, as players must lift their leg in a jump and execute an effective attack with it. The unique combination of sports and skills in the players makes volleyball a spectacular and unique sport.
The match is conducted on a badminton court measuring 13.40 m x 6.10 m and is divided into two parts. The teams are separated by a net placed at a height of 1.52 m for men’s teams and slightly lower, 1.45 m for women’s teams. The ball used in the sepak takraw competition weighs about 200 grams and is slightly smaller than that used by handball players. The ball is made of synthetic fiber and has 12 holes that facilitate its proper rotation and flight path. Its circumference is approximately 42-44 cm for men and 43-45 cm for women.
The sport first gained publicity when videos of Polish football players practicing volleyball during the national team’s training camp appeared on social media profiles. The game of sepak takraw provided fans with a lot of excitement, and during a fierce friendly game, Kamil Glik suffered an injury. The growing interest in the sport led to the formation of a national federation.
The Polish Sepak Takraw Federation was established in 2019 on the initiative of Paweł Podczerwiński, who currently serves as President of the Board. The European federation dealing with the organization of competitions and popularization of the Asian sport sent the rules of the game in English, so the President of the Federation took care of their translation and the creation of the association, whose tasks include the organization of the Polish Championships, as well as an internal sepak takraw league in Poland. The plans of the Polish federation is also to organize games on snow, which would be an innovative variant of volleyball. The first such games are expected to be held later this year in Białka Tatrzańska.
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