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History of Sepak Takraw


Sepak Takraw evolved from a game similar to footbag / hacky sack into the exciting professional sport it is today.

What does Sepak Takraw mean?

Sepak (Malay): Literally, "to strike with the foot", or, simply put, "to kick."

Takraw (Thai) :Ball / Basket

National Variations (Other Languages)

Sepak Takraw is the officially recognised name for the sport but you may find it varies somewhat or entirely from country to country. Below is a list of countries and translations for Sepak Takraw. In Thailand the game is simply called Takraw and this shortened form is also largely used in the West.

Sourced from Gaja Emas

  • Malaysia = Sepak Raga
  • Philippines = Sipa
  • Singapore = Sepak Raga or Sepraga
  • Thailand = Takraw
  • Brunei = Sepak Raga Jala
  • Burma = Ching Loong
  • Indonesia = Rago (South Sulawesi)
  • Laos = Kator


Takraw originates in South-East Asia. It is thought the Thai and Malay people played the game as far back as the 15th century. Recorded history of the game exists in Wat Phra Kaew - The temple that serves as a resting place for the Emerald Buddha. This sacred Buddhist temple in Bangkok (Thailand), contains murals depicting he Hindu god, Hanuman, playing takraw in a ring with a troop of monkeys. Other historical documents record the game being played during the reign of King Naresuan (1590-1605).

As with all history the true origin lies in debate, with many countries claiming it as their own. Some believe the practice evolved from a similar game played by the Chinese military, which is thought to have spread through trade with China.

Circle Game (Recreational)

Before the game was played professionally with nets on courts, villagers, usually male, would kick a rattan ball to each other. The only goal being to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible. As such it is a team game, albeit, with only one team. This game is still played today either for skills training or purely for fun. It has a strong sense of teamwork and co-operation through it's common goal. As a pseudo-non competitive sport, it is well suited to people of all ages.

Professional Evolution

Today Sepak Takraw is played on courts in professional tournaments like the upcoming 2010 Asian games and the prized King's Cup, held every year in Bangkok.

In 1829 Siam Sports Association began putting the first rules down on paper. In 1833 they added a volleyball style net and held their first public competition. This new style of Takraw became such a well loved part of local culture, an exhibition was staged to celebrate the kingdom's first constitution in 1933, the year after Thailand abolished absolute monarchy.

International Competitions

1960 ASTAF founded (Asian Sepak Takraw Federation) and the sport was officially given the name Sepak Takraw. The first international competition was held in Malaysia in 1965, at the South-East Asian Peninsular Games (SEAP Games). The SEAP games were the predecessor to today's Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).

Asian Games

In 1990, Sepak Takraw was included at the Asian Games in Beijing. The first women's championships in Thailand were hosted in 1997. Today, more than 20 countries have national associations with representatives on the board of the global governing body, the International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF).


Adding a net has not just created a competitive version of Takraw but has added an extra layer of excitement. In order to strike the ball downwards (spike) with speed and be able to clear the net, the killer (striker / spiker) must execute a strike in mid-air. The manoeuvres for executing these breathtaking displays of skill and acrobatics vary from player to player but are all great to watch.

Worldwide Spread

Takraw is popular in Thailand, Malaysia, Laos and Indonesia but is largely unheard of in the West. It has made some impact in Western countries, notably Canada and the U.S.A. This is largely thanks to Asian students studying in the West but also Western travellers / backpackers picking up the sport, and / or the ball used to play it.

Olympic Status

Sepak Takraw still remains unheard of in much of the world. While many people have attempted to acquire Olympic recognition for this much loved sport, their requests have fallen on deaf ears. It is however played in the Asian Games and has been since 1990. The Asian Games, like the Olympics, are held every four years. Though the Asian Games have been played since 1951 and is a prestigious event, Olympic status is still sought by those with a passion for the sport.

Sign up to our group and show your support - Campaign for Olympic Recognition


Traditionally the balls were woven from Rattan but today professional games are played with synthetic woven balls. You can find these synthetic balls at our Takraw Shop.

Visit the Takraw Shop