Sepak Takraw – Regina, SK

The groundwork for today’s episode began a few weeks ago. I found out I was headed to Regina for non-Gymineer related work. Undeterred by the thought of the Praries in December, I began looking for sports that would be unique to the Regina scene.

I googled “Regina Recreation” and “Awesome sports you can only find in Regina”, but it lead only to the usual suspects. I turned to my trusty list of sports that I’ve heard of but haven’t yet tried. I picked a random one – something called “Sepak Takraw” and typed it into the search bar with the word Canada beside it. Surely somebody in Canada played this, right?

The first link to surface is for the Sepak Takraw Association of Canada, with a physical address in… Regina!?

I know, I know, you’re thinking “Jamie, why are you so surprised? Everything is in Regina, except the Grey Cup of course”. Ouch, low-blow Gymineer Reader.

A couple of emails later and I was all set-up to jump in on the game. So what is it?

Sepak Takraw, is essentially a combination of soccer and volleyball. Three guys aside, three touches, pretty similar strategy – but no hands.

This event marked the largest talent gap in what I expected of myself and what the people I was playing with were capable of. It was intimidating, as we stood in the gym learning the basic manoeuvres – five ways to stop the ball from hitting the ground – these young kids were throwing out so many bicycles kicks that it almost stopped seeming cool. Beyond that, they seemed to always land on their feet!

The learning curve of the basics is very quick. I brought along a new Gymineer rookie, my buddy Russ who I ran with during my days down in Virginia. Russ said he wasn’t much of a soccer player. “I suck” were his exact words. But he didn’t. Even without any soccer background, Russ was able to jump in and keep pace and played in our little round robin of games.

The ball used in Sepak Takraw is a little bigger than a softball and made of intertwined plastic or wicker. I saw these guys sending line drives and spikes over the net, and figured “I’ve taken a soccer ball to the head plenty of times, be brave gymineer!” So that’s what I did, once. The ball has a bit more weight to it then I expected, and taking one off the noggin’ can come with consequences – nothing you won’t walk away from, but I took a couple lumps on the head.

We were also given shoes that were plain to look at, but they led to some big improvements in ball control. The rounded edges of most modern running shoes gives way to some uncontrollable bounces, so you’re better off with something simple and flat – consider rockin’ the old Five Stars or even some old skate shoes.

There are Sepak Takraw organizations in other places in Canada, though if you really want to get into it Malaysia may be your location of choice. It’s the national sport there, and so I am told – its popularity in Malaysia is on par with hockey here the Great White North. Sorry folks, but you can’t argue with a national sport.