The Backstreet Boys Sepak Takraw Championship

The Backstreet Sepak Takraw Championship

Behind the wall of spectators, is an exciting game of sepak takraw. The community organises some informal events for the special day of Eid.

Fittingly, one of the events is Sepak Takraw, a favourite sport played here on Sundays. Sepak takraw is a kind of foot volleyball played with a woven rattan ball.

Some historians believe the Burmese ‘Chinlone’ artform (single-player takraw-style kicking) was derived from Cuju (catch ball), a form of military exercise from ancient China circa 3rd century BC.

Given that it is a public holiday today, many of the migrant workers are not just here to support their teams but also to catch up with fellow villagers from home. It is serious competition for the teams and just as serious socialising for the supporters.

Public holiday breaks are fewer for them as not all holidays are recognised by their employers. Many workers may also opt to work overtime for additional wages.

This ‘village’ consists of 90 percent Muslim migrants from Myanmar and because it is Eid-ul-Fitr, there is a festive and cheerful atmosphere all round.

Back to the game; Tekong Karin passes the ball to Obai who scored with a tumbling somersault. The third (hidden) player is Tun Tun Min.

Seeing the crowd’s enthusiasm and the thunderous cheers form both sides, I asked some of the spectators who’s playing who? They replied “Sama Kampung” or “from the same village”.

Having witnessed their skills and passion for the game, I am not surprised their countrymen back home are moving beyond village championships. Myanmar won the Gold for men’s doubles in the recent SEA Games.

Next: How I was inducted into a Rohingya Rave Party.

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