Takraw: the new football?
You need to be on the other side of the world – or at least as far away as East Asia – to have any hope of escaping the football tournament that will be our nation’s obsession for the next month!
Go to Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand, and people are still interested in who wins Euro 2016, but they’re passionate about a crazy ancient sport best described as a cross between foot badminton and volleyball.
Takraw (or Sepak Takraw as it’s also known) is played in more than 20 countries, it’s breathtaking, fast and skilful, and just might – we said just might – be more thrilling than football.
Fancy trying it out? Here’s what you need:
· A rattan or synthetic woven ball – don’t bother digging out that hacky sack from back in the day, it’s way too old and heavy.
· Agility, fantastic foot to eye coordination, the ability to perform overhead bicycle kicks (what do you mean, you can’t?) and better ball control than the Premiership’s best, as only your feet, knees, chest or head are allowed to make contact with it.
· A doubles badminton court, and a total of 6 team mates – 3 on each side.
· A designated server, whose job it is to release (volley kick) the ball from the back of the court, over the net, into the opposition’s half. (Good luck with that!)
· The rules – similar to volleyball, each team can touch the ball up to 3 times between themselves before then trying to land it in the opposition’s half. Get it in and you score a point, send it wide and a point goes to the other side. The winning team is the first to 21.
So, still up for giving one of the most demanding sports in the world a go? Let us know how you get on! Pictures of overhead bicycle kicks especially welcome.