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Brunei
Thursday, December 8, 2022
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Brunei
Thursday, December 8, 2022
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    Just for kicks

    Fadhil Yunus

    Sepak takraw is widely considered as one of the traditional sports which used to be enjoyed as part of a way of life in the community either in mukims or villages.

    In relation to the current progress, the sport which originated from villages has now been played not only at national level, but also regionally and internationally.

    The sport is contested by two teams comprising three players each. The playing area is equipped with a net which is placed between both teams. Previously, the sport was commonly played by men but nowadays it has generated interest among women as well.

    Sepak takraw is often seen as a crossover between association football and badminton as it similarly involves the use of the feet and a net in the middle of the playing field. Initially, it was played by performing kick-ups on the takraw ball in a circled centre by using foot or head.

    The sport is defined by a variety of names in several countries as it is known as sepak raga in Malaysia, sipa in the Philippines, chinlone in Myanmar, kator in Laos and takraw in Thailand.

    File photo shows players from local teams take part in a sepak takraw meet in the Belait District. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM

    In the 1940s, sepak takraw was played using a net and followed a scoring system like badminton.

    However, it was not until April 15, 1960 when the rules and regulations were drafted and arranged in writing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    Sepak takraw was first featured at the international level in 1965 at the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (SEAP) in Malaysia.

    Before the SEAP Games Management Committee received the sport, firm discussions were made between representatives from Singapore and Malaysia as well as from other Southeast Asian nations to discuss the official name of the sport.

    Finally, on the basis of tolerance, the SEAP Games Management Committee decided that the sport should be called sepak takraw, combining sepak and takraw into one word.

    At first, the takraw ball was made of rattan and has since then been replaced by a synthetic ball, while the number of players is two to four for each team, with two players at the back referred as tekong and two players at the front known as apit kiri and apit kanan.

    The playing field for sepak takraw typically measures 13.4 metres by 6.1 metres, while the pole size consists a height of 1.55 metres (1.45 metres for women) from the court surface and must be firm to prevent the tension of the net.

    In Brunei Darussalam, it is one of the most favoured just like any other popular sports.

    The nation’s accomplishments in both the regional and international level have yielded a desirable outcome though there has been activity as of late amid the cancellations of tournaments due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Apart from the Youth and Sports Department leading the development and progress of the sport, the Brunei Darussalam Sepak Takraw Association (PESTABARU) also played an important role and responsibility in developing and advancing the sport, especially producing talented athletes, besides producing a national team with potential.

    The association is also active in organising competitions and meetings discussing plans for both local and overseas meets.

    PESTABARU is currently led by Pengiran Haji Ali Hassan bin Pengiran Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Abas as its President.

    The association was established on September 1, 1970. Among its successes were a bronze medal in the 1998 Asian Games in Thailand; bronze in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Brunei Darussalam in 1999; bronze in the SEA Games in Myanmar in 2013; and bronze in the SEA Games in Singapore in 2015.

    During the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, the national squad under the guidance of Jafar bin Mohd Wali succeeded in obtaining three bronze medals in the team events and chinlone.

    Meanwhile, the country saw their participation in the Sepak Takraw Beach Games in Indonesia in 2008 and Oman in 2010 resulting in a bronze medal, before finally grabbing gold in Phuket, Thailand in 2014.

    According to the Vice President of PESTABARU Haji Mohd Noor bin Haji Abdul Hamid, efforts to enhance the quality of play of sepak takraw have been identified as the main priority mainly producing potential talented players.

    He added that, at this time, PESTABARU remains active in organising a national league which has previously not been able to be organised due to the pandemic.

    In this tournament, 21 teams have been registered to participate but it stalled due to the shortage of courts, while efforts to find places are ongoing.

    Moving forward, the vice president said that PESTABARU plans to hold a national league as a long-term plan aimed at improving the quality of sepak takraw in the country.

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