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Takraw


The game with the interlaced grapefruit-sized rattan ball is played by people of all ages and it has a long tradition in south east Asia. It is very popular among Thais and it is even classified as a national sport.
Numerous variations of takraw (pronounced: Ta-krow) are played throughout the region, but the basic rules apply to all of them: The ball can only be played with feet, knees, shoulders and head, but not with the hands. The game will be interrupted, when the ball touches the ground.
During takraw wong lek,  several players stand in a ring and try to keep the ball airborne as long as possible. Loud applauses are awarded by spectators and teammates as well for acrobatic and impressive skillful kicks.
A more tricky variation is takraw dtae, where six players form a circle and at the same time, there are three balls in the game. The opposite players try to play their ball as often as possible in a predefined time without touching the other two balls.
Championships are hold in both variations of sepak takraw. The rules for it originating from 1936, since then takraw is taught at universities and colleges as well.
There are national championships where the goal is to put the ball into a basket-shaped net with three about 60 cm hoop openings in a triangular formation suspended some five to six meters above ground. Each team is given an allotted time, to put the ball in the basket as many times and as gracefully as they can. Points are awarded not only for scoring a hit, but also for difficulty and the repertoire of artistic kicks. A hit with the head counts more than with the feet.
A very spectacular and acrobatic variation is a mixture between volleyball and football, which is either national or international played: three players in each team try to play the ball over a net that is about 1,70 meters tall and to score a hit in the opposing field, which is about the size of a badminton field. Basic rules and scoring are similar to volleyball, with each team allowed a maximum of three touches of the ball to get it back over the net to the other side without letting it touch the ground. The first team to score 15 points wins the set.
Since 1965, this variation of takraw is part of the official competition program of the Asian games. Although there were many national teams participating in this contest, the teams of Malaysia and Thailand won the titles for all competitions. In November 1988 the first world championship was held - the winner was Thailand after a hard battle with his final opponent Malaysia.
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