Seremban's Paroi stadium was the batleground this week for schools from all over Negeri Sembilan contesting the state sepak takraw titles.
Teams from the Under 18's and Under 15's divisions spent three days jumping, kicking and heading the rattan balls over the net to each other, in a fantastic display of dexterity and agility, as well as enormous skill. Every point was hotly contested and cheered on by spectators, win or lose.
Selectors will now pick teams from all the players on display to represent Negeri Sembilan state teams that will contest the national titles later on in the year.
Best of luck.
HISTORY OF SEPAK TAKRAW
"Sepak" is the Malay word for kick and "takraw" is the Thai word for a woven ball, therefore sepak takraw quite literally means to kick ball. The choosing of this name for the sport was essentially a compromise between Malaysia and Thailand, the two powerhouse countries of the sport.
The game is believed to be a variation of cuju, a game the ancient Chinese army used to play, whereby they kept a feathered shuttecock airborne between two players.
At first the game was not so much a competition, but a skillfull exercise for the body, which helped improve the players' dexterity and loosen the limbs after long periods of sitting, standing or working.
By the 1940s, a net had been introduced and the game was being played in kampungs all over Southeast Asia and rules began to govern the game, which now has an International federation.
There are three players on each team with the one at the back called a “Tekong.” The other two players go to the front, near the net, with one on the left and the other on the right. The player to the right of the tekong lobs the rattan ball to him and he serves it over the net with his foot.
The team defending the serve must only touch the rattan ball three times, so the players try to get the ball high and close to the net for the net players to spike it hard with their foot, or head. Essentially it is like volleyball played with the feet.