Gaining increasing popularity the move is to have it enter the Olympics.
(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Camilo Menzes = "Sepak" is the Malay word for kick and "takraw" is the Thai word for a woven ball, therefore sepak takraw quite literally means to kick ball. The choosing of this name for the sport was essentially a compromise between Malaysia and Thailand, the two powerhouse countries of the sport.
The game differs from the similar sport of volleyball in its use of a rattan ball and only allowing players to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball. It is a popular sport in Southeast Asia.
The earliest historical evidence shows the game was played in the 15th century's Malacca Sultanate, for it is mentioned in the Malay historical text, "Sejarah Melayu" (Malay Annals). The Malay Annals described in details the incident of Raja Muhammad, a son of Sultan Mansur Shah who was accidentally hit with a rattan ball by Tun Besar, a son of Tun Perak, in a Sepak raga game. The ball hit Raja Muhammad's headgear and knocked it down to the ground. In anger, Raja Muhammad immediately stabbed and killed Tun Besar, whereupon some of Tun Besar's kinsmen retaliated and wanted to kill Raja Muhammad. However, Tun Perak managed to restrain them from such an act of treason by saying that he would no longer accept Raja Muhammad as the Sultan's heir. As a result of this incident, Sultan Mansur Shah ordered his son out of Malacca and had him installed as the ruler of Pahang.
In the early days, Sepak Takraw known as "Raga” had men play encircled within a group. The ball is then passed from one to another and the man who kicks the ball highest is the winner. "Raga" is also played for fun by demonstrating some tricks, such as kicking the ball and putting it on top of player's head and holding it with the headgear.
In 1935, Negeri Sembilan, with Malaya under British colonial rule celebrated the Silver Jubilee of King George V, by having ‘Sepak Raga' played on a badminton court over a net with players on both sides. Both badminton and 'Sepak Raga' rules were combined to form a new, very exciting game and came to be called as the 'Sepak Raga Jubilee'.
The game now gained popularity in Negeri Sembilan and spread to the other Malay states. In the years after World War II right up to the early 'fifties', the game was played in villages and towns all over the country - especially in areas with a large Malay population. During World War II, the game grew rapidly in Penang.
So it not surprising that the development of modern Sepak Takraw is mainly due to three persons from Penang. In February, 1945 a net and rules similar to volleyball was introduced by Hamid Maidin. He had invited Mohamad Abdul Rahman (the best player with Raga Bulatan - or Circle Game) and Syed Yaacob to try his new twist on 'Net Sepak Raga'. The faster pace, the different styles of kicking and the higher standard of athleticism that it demanded won them over.
The first official competition was held at the Swim Club on May 16, 1945. Teams from Malay villages in Penang were among those that competed for the Nyak Din Nyak Sham Trophy. The game, at this juncture, became known as " Sepak Raga Jaring". From that point on, it spread quickly throughout the rest of the Malay Peninsula and South East Asia. By the late 'fifties' the game was popular in most schools that had badminton courts. Soon Sepak Raga associations were formed in various Malaysian states.
The Malaysian Sepak Raga Federation was founded at a conference held at the Community Hall in Penang, June 25, 1960. Delegates from Kedah, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan and Penang attended. The first President was Mr. Mohd Khir Johari who was a cabinet minister in the young Malaysian government.
Later the same year, representatives from various Southeast Asian counties met in Kuala Lumpur to establish a standard set of rules and regulations for the game. To promote the game further in Malaysia, an inter-state competition was organised in 1962. Penang became the first holder of the Khir Johari Gold Cup. By then, Sepak Raga Jaring (Sepak Raga Net) had become one of the more popular games in the country. Today modern Sepak Takraw is Malaysia's national sport.
Malaysia took the opportunity to garner more international recognition for Sepak Takraw when Malaysia hosted the 1965 South East Asia Peninsular Games (SEAP Games). For the first time in the SEAP Games, this new sport was included as a medal event, but not before a lengthy discussion between Malaysian and Singapore delegates, on the one hand, and Laos and Thai delegates, on the other, with regard to the official name of the sport. The SEAP Games Committee eventually agreed that the sport would be known as "SEPAK TAKRAW". Also in 1965, the Asian Sepak Takraw Federation (ASTAF) was formed to govern the sport in Asia, then in 1992 the International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) was formed as the world governing body for the sport.
A milestone for the game was when in 1998, Sepak Takraw was introduced as a demonstration event in the Commonwealth Games held in Kuala Lumpur. This meant that for the first time it was seen in a non-Asian, international sporting event! Today Sepak Takraw has players and followers in more than 20 countries around the world.