Heralding from South East Asia, Sepak Takraw is a sport unfamiliar to the Irish sporting scene, yet UCD is home to one of the only Sepak Takraw clubs on these shores.
Sepak Takraw is best described as a blend of soccer and volleyball, ‘Sepak’ being the Malay word for kick, and ‘Takraw’; the Thai word for a woven ball. Players are permitted only to use their feet, head, chest or knee to play the ball over a net similar to volleyball. The ‘rattan ball’ itself is unique to this game, made out of synthetic rubber in a manner which mirrors the traditionally woven ball made from rattan, a climbing tree native to Asia.
The game has a long history in Asia, having been played for many centuries, the earliest record of it being found in the Malay Annals dating back to the 15th century. However it was only in recent years that the game spread to the Belfield campus, a group of Malaysian students responsible for the clubs foundation.
In Ireland, this sport is still only in its infancy; UCD boasting the only club out of all of Ireland’s colleges. However, it is easy to see the potential for growth that the sport holds. With only three players per team, it is an easily assembled team and engages soccer skills in a competitive but fun environment.
Furthermore, having seen a great rise in interest levels this year, the Sepak Takraw club are starting to look further afield for competition. Due to the lack of clubs in Ireland, there is a shortage of teams against which the members can test their skills. Europe could hold the key to this dilemma. With the game becoming increasingly popular in the UK and Germany, the UCD club is currently looking into the possibility stretching their legs across the continent to showcase their talent. This could be your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a sport which is only going to get bigger on these shores, meet new people and get an unforgettable trip abroad through a sport you never knew existed.
If you missed them at the Sports Expo during Fresher’s Week, it is not too late to get involved. You can email them at [email protected], or head down to one of the training sessions on Tuesday between 5-7pm in the Sports Hall in the UCD Sports Centre.
Anthony O’Riordan – Sports Writer