Numerous people have invented many pastimes and sports across the world to keep them entertained. These sports have always been a huge part of human cultures, with many sports originating ages ago and being handed down to us today in their modern manifestations. Almost everyone has heard of sports like football, cricket, tennis, rugby, and many other common sports, but sometimes some different types of sports are odd enough to amuse everyone. Sepak Takraw is one such game which is unique, interesting, and a bit different than other related sports. It is an extremely striking sport and is popular in South Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Just imagine playing volleyball without using your hands! All you can use are your feet, knees, chest, and head to touch the ball, and that’s the game of Sepak Takraw or Kick Volleyball.

Playing this energetic game requires a lot of agility and athleticism as striking the ball with a bicycle kick is more powerful and harder to defend against. The word ‘Takraw’ is Thai in origin and it can be translated as a muzzle or woven rattan ball, while ‘Sepak’ is a Malay word for a kick. This sport is referred to as the sport played using Takraw, therefore Sepak Takraw quite literally means ‘to kick a ball’. The actual origin of this game is still unclear, but it was introduced to Southeast Asia by Chinese who were inspired by traditional games, cuju, an ancient Chinese military exercise, where soldiers would try to keep a feathered shuttlecock airborne kicking it back and forth between two people. As this sport developed, the feathers were eventually replaced by balls made of woven strips of rattan. Some historians also believe that Sepak Takraw was originated in Malaysia in the 15th Century and it remains popular there and across Southeast Asia in Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand. The game differs from the similar sport of footvolley in its use of rattan ball and only allowing players to use their foot, knee, and head to touch the ball.

The international version of this game is known by different borrowed terms. In Indonesia and Malaysia, Sepak Takraw is similarly known as ‘Sepak Raga’. Some earliest historical evidence shows that the game was played in the 15th century’s Malacca Sultanate, for it is mentioned in the Malay historical text ‘Sejarah Melayu’. In the Philippines, the sport is known as Sepak Takraw, but here it resembles the native sport known as ‘Sipà’. In Thailand, it is simply known as ‘Takraw’, and there is evidence that the Thai had played Sepak Takraw since the Ayutthaya Kingdom, at least during the reign of King Naresuan, from 1590 to 1605. A French historian Francois Henri Turpin has also written about how the people of Thailand played this game to stay in proper shape. In Laos, Takraw is ‘Kataw’, and in Myanmar, this unique sport is considered more of an art as there is often no opposing team and there it is known as Chin Lone. While playing  this game in Myanmar , the players try to keep the ball aloft gracefully and interestingly. Earlier, the Sepak Takraw games were not so much of huge competition, but rather cooperative displays of skills designed to exercise the body, improve flexibility, and loosen the limbs after long time durations of sitting, standing, and working. By the 1940s, the net version of the game had spread throughout Southeast Asia, and formal rules were introduced.

Sepak Takraw can be played both, indoor and outdoor, with 3 players per side. Teams alternate serve every 3 points, regardless of who wins the points, which means each team will get a chance to serve 3 times. If a tie takes place at the score of 21-21, each team alternates one serves until a winner is determined. 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. The match is won by the team who has two sets. And a team event match is won by the team that wins two sets. All these rules and other important rules are determined by the Sepak Takraw’s regulating body ISTAF. The International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) regulates the international games of Sepak Takraw. Some annual major international competitions include the ISTAF Super Series, ISTAF World Cup, and King’s Cup World Championship.

The ISTAF was established in 1988 by visionaries within the Asian Sepak Takraw Federation and the International ISTA, and they work as the undisputed international regulating bodies for the sport. It is officially based in Thailand and with its Secretariat in Singapore, the organization has benefited both from the healthy continuity of leadership and from the incredible drive displayed by its executive. Our generation is lucky enough to witness a time when an athletic game like Sepak Takraw is constantly reformulating and emerging on a large scale, without being surprised that the world of sports sometimes can take a walk on the unique and weird side of things. However, that doesn’t mean this unique sport is weird, in fact, it was invented before we had the internet to entertain us, and this unique and interesting Sepak Takraw is still enough to entertain people with its athletic and powerful moves.