The National Sport of Malaysia is Sepak Takraw.
This ancient game uniquely combines elements of soccer, volleyball, and martial arts, captivating Malaysians across age groups and backgrounds.
To learn more about sports culture in Malaysia, read our article about the most popular sports in Malaysia.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Sepak Takraw
- 15th Century: The origins of Sepak Takraw can be traced back to 15th-century Malaysia and its neighboring countries, where it was known as sepak raga.
- Early 20th Century: The sport was played extensively in schools across Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, leading to its growing popularity.
- 1940s: Sepak Takraw was formally introduced and standardized with a new set of rules known as the “Malay Sepak Raga rules.”
- 1960: The Sepak Takraw Federation of Malaysia was established to oversee and govern the sport.
- 1965: The first Sepak Takraw Championship took place in Penang.
- 1990: Sepak Takraw was included in the Asian Games for the first time, affirming its regional importance.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Sepak Takraw is a vital part of Malaysia’s cultural identity, enjoyed by all age groups and social strata. It is often played informally in parks, streets, and recreational centers, fostering community bonding and spirited rivalries.
Festivals in Malaysia often showcase Sepak Takraw, with teams competing for pride and glory. The Malaysia Cup, held annually, is one of the most prestigious Sepak Takraw tournaments that enthuse spectators and athletes alike.
Sepak Takraw players are not only admired for their athletic skills but also revered for their discipline, grace, and mastery of an art form that is rooted in local tradition and history.
#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment
📕 Rules & Gameplay
- Objective: The objective of Sepak Takraw is to score points by sending the ball over the net and into the opposing team’s court.
- Players: Each team is composed of three players: a tekong (server), a feeder, and a striker.
- Scoring: A point is awarded when the opposing team either commits a fault or fails to return the ball in the specified number of touches.
- Gameplay: The ball may not be touched by hands or arms; players can only use their feet, knees, shoulders, and head to touch the ball.
- Winning: A match is usually played as the best-of-three sets, with each set requiring 21 points for a win.
⚙️ Equipment & Gear
- Ball: Made of synthetic fiber, the sepak takraw ball is small, lightweight, and woven in a rattan-style pattern.
- Net: Similar to a badminton net in structure, it is strung tightly across the middle of the court.
- Court: The court is rectangular, measuring 20.1 meters by 6.1 meters, and divided into two equal halves by the net.
- Kits: Players wear light, athletic clothing and specialized sneakers designed for the sport’s demanding movements.
#4 Modern Development of Sepak Takraw
The evolution of Sepak Takraw has seen significant growth in its international appeal, with the International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) overseeing its expansion. ISTAF’s establishment in 1988 signaled the sport’s recognition on the global stage.
Technological advancements have led to improvements in ball designs and materials, allowing for more dynamic and faster play. Traditional rattan balls have been replaced with synthetic fiber balls that are more durable and consistent in shape, enabling players to perform remarkable acrobatics with precision and power.
In recent decades, Sepak Takraw has experienced growing popularity beyond Southeast Asia, reaching countries such as Japan, Australia, Canada, and the United States. This reflects the sport’s expanding reach and potential for inclusion in future international events like the Olympic Games.
#5 Sepak Takraw and the Olympics
Despite its popularity across Southeast Asia and its inclusion in other major sporting events like the Asian Games, Sepak Takraw has not yet been featured in the Olympic Games. Nevertheless, efforts have been made by the International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) to lobby for its inclusion in the future.
If Sepak Takraw were to be included in the Olympics, it would significantly boost its global recognition. This could lead to increased investment, sponsorship, and participation in the sport worldwide, further solidifying its importance in the international sporting landscape.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Yusoff Ali: A Malaysian Sepak Takraw legend, Yusoff Ali is remembered for his sportsmanship and exceptional skill. He has been honored multiple times for his contributions to the sport in Malaysia.
- Noor Zaman: Noor Zaman has achieved great success in the sport, winning numerous titles and medals. As a key player of the Malaysian national team, he has helped raise the country’s profile in global Sepak Takraw competitions.
- Rosman Roslan: Known for his acrobatic skills and powerful strikes, Rosman Roslan has been a significant part of Malaysia’s Sepak Takraw team. He has represented the country in various international tournaments, achieving commendable results.
#7 Where to watch Sepak Takraw
- Astro Arena and RTM: Malaysian viewers can catch Sepak Takraw events on national TV channels like Astro Arena and RTM, which broadcast local and international competitions.
- Online Streaming: Live streaming services offer coverage of Sepak Takraw events, sometimes with additional subscription fees.
- Live Events: Stadiums like the Titiwangsa Indoor Stadium in Kuala Lumpur and the MPSJ Stadium in Selangor often host live Sepak Takraw events, allowing fans to experience the atmosphere and excitement up close.