Thailand Takraw

'Takraw'
, sometimes called Siamese football in old English texts, refers to games in which a woven rattan ball, about 12cm in diameter, is kicked around. The rattan (or sometimes plastic) ball itself is called a 'luuk takraw'. 'Takraw' is also popular in several neighbouring countries ; it was originally introduced to the South-East Asian Games by Thailand and international championships tend to alternate between the Thais and Malays.

The traditional way to play 'takraw' in Thailand is for players to stand in a circle (the size of it depends on the number of players) and simply try to keep the ball airborne by kicking it soccer-style. Points are scored for style, difficulty and variety of kicking manoeuvres.

A popular variation on takraw - and the one used in intramural or international competitions - is played with a volleyball net, using all the same rules as in volleyball except that only the feet and head are permitted to touch the ball. It's amazing to see the players perform aerial pirouettes, apiking the ball over the net with their feet. Another variation has players kicking the ball into a hoop 4.5m above the ground - basketball with feet, but without a backboard!

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