Limpag: Sepak takraw gets booster shot

WHEN our school introduced sepak takraw in the intramurals back when we were in second--or was it third?--most of the teams fielded in football players who had no idea what sepak takraw is.

We had no idea how the sport was played, or how was it even scored; We were good in making sure the ball doesn’t fall to the ground and because they’ve seen us juggle, the teachers thought it was best to field footballers in the school intrams.

We had fun facing off against fellow footballers, but when it was the turn of the freshmen--the new kids on the block--boy did they shock everyone. While the rest fielded football players, the freshmen team got real sepak takraw players and for the first time, I and the rest of the school saw, real sepak takraw.

It is a fast and exciting sport. I think that freshmen team went on to represent our school in the district, provincial and even regional meets and we weren’t surprised. Those guys were a class above.

Back when I started jogging at the Cebu City Sports Center, there were a group of guys who regularly played sepak takraw and I wasn’t surprised that one of them--Rhey Ortouste--went on to become a member of the national team, even winning a silver in the Southeast Asian Games.

However, in the past year or so, you could rarely see any one play the sport anymore and it’s a bit sad considering that Cebu is a hotbed of talent for the national team. Or so I was told.

Sepak takraw, like batted sports, in Cebu City seems to be dying. But that could all change.

The NSA for the sport in the country, headed by Karen Tanchanco Caballero, is mulling a national league and I think that will do wonders for the sport. Right now, players have nothing left after the Palaro as the sport is rarely included in the college calendar. The lack of opportunities, plus a lack of a grassroots program, means the population of players is small.

This new league is a product of the Pilipinas Sepak Takraw Association Inc., and get this, unlike some NSAs, PSTL will soon reach out to other stakeholders and clubs in the country.

That move, plus the league, will be the booster shot the sport need.
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