NEW DELHI (27 APRIL 2013): In a nation synonymous with cricket, India’s sports-loving fans will get to witness the acrobatic acts of sepaktakraw players when the opening round of the ISTAF SuperSeries 2013 is held in New Delhi from August 29- Sept 1.
Defending champions Thailand lead the challenge in the 12-team men’s category. The Thais will be joined by Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Brunei, Philippines, India, United States, Myanmar and Iran. In the eight-team women’s division, the formidable Thais have for company Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, China and India.
ISTAF secretary-general Dato’ Abdul Halim Kader, who announced this at a press conference yesterday at the Press Club of India, said the game of sepaktakraw is gaining popularity in India since it was first introduced as a demonstration sport in the 1982 Asian Games and was telecast live on Indian television.
“There is so much of excitement in this game and a real challenge. The nations competing in this tournament earned themselves valuable ranking points, and, while Thailand still top both the men’s and women’s rankings, the other nations are gradually making big gains,” said Abdul Kader.
“We thank the Sepaktakraw Federation of India for organising the first round which speaks volumes in their efforts to promote the game to a wider segment of society especially in schools, colleges and universities.”
Among the dignitaries present at the press conference were UFA Sports Asia managing director, Jeff Chue, Project Consultant Venu Ramadass and the secretary-general of the Sepaktakraw Federation of India, Yogender Singh Dahiya.
Upon completion of the New Delhi chapter, the ISTAF SuperSeries 2013 moves to Bangkok, Thailand, for the second leg from Sept 19-22. Malaysia will host the third leg of the SuperSeries in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, from Oct 31-Nov 3.
“However, due to the keen interest shown by three countries to host the SuperSeries 2013 Finals, ISTAF will decide on the venue and dates in due course,” added Abdul Kader.
Jeff Chue, UFA Sports Asia’s managing director, said a two-day workshop to build upon the immensely successful inaugural ISTAF SuperSeries 2011/12 was held in Kuala Lumpur last month. The open discussion and dialogue with participating teams from 14 nations was to enhance Season 2 of the SuperSeries 2013 so as to further increase the competitive levels, profile and international appeal of the sport.
“The presidents and secretary-generals of all the participating nations were thoroughly briefed on these enhancements during the workshop, which will also serve to strengthen comradeship among the member countries,” added Chue.
The Indian national teams have been impressive in international championships in recent times. At the 2009 King’s Cup in Thailand, India won six medals – three of which, including a gold, came from the men’s team while the women bagged three bronze.
Though the game is in a nascent stage, it is played rather actively in the northern-eastern states of India, especially Manipur, which won the National championships on several occasions while the Delhi teams are a force to be reckoned with also. Down south, the winds of sepaktakraw is blowing across the state of Andhra Pradesh at a moderate speed as more youths are enthralled with the game.
India’s national governing body secretary-general, Mr. Yogendra, acknowledged that they are working closely with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, in further promoting and developing the game in the world’s second most populous nation with over 1.2 billion people.
“In the 2012 National championships in Hyderabad, 26 state teams confirmed their participation in the men’s section while the women were represented by 20 states. This augurs well in our development programmes,” said Yogendra.
The ISTAF SuperSeries 2013, he added, will give an opportunity to India’s fans to watch a high-level of the game and also the superiority of some of Asia’s top teams.
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