10 Things You Should Know is a series of short animated videos on aspects of Malay culture and heritage. In our latest video of the series, we share 10 facts on the Sepak Takraw, a team sport played with a rattan ball. This series of animated videos is produced in collaboration with Wisma Geylang Serai.
You can also view this video on Youtube.
1. The name of the sport, sepak takraw, can be literally translated as ‘to kick a rattan ball’: sepak means ‘kick’ in Malay, whereas takraw refers to a rattan ball in Thai.
2. While exact origins of sepak takraw is unclear, some believe that the sport was introduced to Southeast Asia by the Chinese as sepak takraw bears some similarity to the ancient Chinese football game, cu-ju.
3. The earliest records of sepak takraw were found in the ancient manuscript, Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu),describing a game played with a rattan ball in the royal court in the 15th century in Malaysia. There were also 18th-century murals in Thailand of the Hindu god Hanuman playing sepak takraw with a troop of monkeys!
4.The equipment required in sepak takraw is a net and a ball. While the ball used to be made of rattan, it is currently made with synthetic fibers, woven in a single layer.
5. Sepak takraw is typically played between two teams, known as regu in this sport . Each player in the 3-player team has a different role. The server or tekong serves the ball with high speed,the striker executes spikes or volleys to the opponent’s side or blocks high kicks, and the feeder, who is typically the most agile and usually has most control of the ball during the game, sets the ball for the striker
6. Different kicks, spikes and serves are used in sepak takraw, which require much training in order to execute them masterfully. One of the most difficult yet stylish spikes to execute in sepak takraw is the roll spike, which involves the player jumping using one leg and flipping in the direction where the player wants the ball to go, all while remaining airborne. This also requires the player to kick the ball over the player’s opposite shoulder, which should happen before the player lands on the ground.
7. In South Sulawesi, there is a, Pa’Raga which involves 6 players, taking turns to show their skills in handling the sepak takraw ball. Together with 4 music players, pa’raga as a performance practice is about harmonising their body rhythms with each player as they take turns to work with the ball and pass it around. Hence, a key element for the success of this art form is balance and teamwork.
8. In 1965, sepak takraw was introduced as a medal event in the Southeast Asian Peninsular Games (now known as SEA Games). In the same year, the Asian Sepak Takraw Foundation (ASTAF) was established as the governing body of sepak takraw 3 . Sepak takraw was only introduced as a medal sport in the Asian Games in 1990.
9. Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation (PERSES) formed the nation’s first women’s national team in 2021, setting their sights to compete in the 2023 SEA Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
10. While sepak takraw is a popular sport in Southeast Asia, the sport is also played in other countries around the world, such as the United States of America (USA), which even has its own sepak takraw association.
“Rules and regulations of Sepak Takraw” by Singapore Sports Council ActiveSG. https://www.myactivesg.com/
“Game procedure and player positions in Sepak Takraw” by Singapore Sports Council ActiveSG. https://www.myactivesg.com/
 “Sepak Takraw: The Origins, History, Rules, And Equipment” by Rhett Lewis. https://historyofsoccer.info/
 “Equipment and attire for Sepak Takraw” by Singapore Sports Council https://www.myactivesg.com/
 “Techniques and skills in sepak takraw” by Singapore Sports Council ActiveSG. https://www.myactivesg.com/
 “Sepak Takraw - Shots and Techniques” by Tutorials Point. https://www.tutorialspoint.
 “The Uniquely Southeast Asian Sport of Sepak Takraw” by Lee Jian Wei https://www.asiangeo.com/
 “‘A long time coming’: Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation forms first women’s national team” by Nabilah Awang TODAY, March 27, 2021. https://www.todayonline.com/
“6 Countries You Never Knew Played Sepak Takraw” by M Zulkifli. https://www.redbull.com/my-en/
10 Things You Should Know is the first of a series of videos on Malay culture and heritage, created by ArtsEquator and commissioned by Wisma Geylang Serai. It is a continuation of an earlier series by ArtsEquator, featuring batik, gamelan, Malay dance and others, which you can check out here.
The videos in this series are sponsored by Wisma Geylang Serai. The money earned from paid advertising goes towards covering ArtsEquator’s running costs and paying our writers and content creators. We have a strict policy regarding which content which can and cannot be sponsored. To read more about our editorial policy, please go here.
About the author(s)
Muhd Noramin Mohd Farid (Soultari) is a choreographer, arts educator and researcher from Singapore. He received his Doctorate in Theatre and Dance studies (2021) from Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. He is a recipient of the ASEAN-India Youth Award (2018), Singapore Youth Award (2017), National Arts Council Scholarship (2017) and Goh Chok Tong Mendaki Youth Promise Award (2016). Amin is the Joint-Artistic Director of Bhumi Collective, a multidisciplinary performing art and producing company. He writes occasionally for Arts Equator, Straits Times and the Esplanade Theatres by the Bay.