The Sri Lanka Sepak Takraw women’s team, with a host of newcomers, staged a magnificent rally to snatch the third place and with it the Bronze Medal at the 28th King’s Cup World Championships held in the Province of Udonthani, 700 km from Bangkok, Thailand.
Sepak Takraw is similar to volleyball but without the use of hands and is played on a court similar to a badminton court. It is very popular in countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and the Philippines. Since of late the sport has been spreading in places such as Australia, Germany and Canada as well.
Also in line for honours was T. Nizam Hajireen, Sri Lanka Amateur Sepak Takraw Assocation’s President and a double international in football and rugby. When the International Sepak Takraw Federation ( ISTAF ) held its’ Congress on the sidelines of the 28th King’s Cup World Sepak Takraw Championship at Udonthani, Hajireen was unanimously elected for the following posts in the ISTAF: Vice-President, Vice-Chairman Technical Committee, Chairman Disciplinary Committee, Vice-Chairman Sports Equipment Committee and Senior Lecturer for Foreign Participants of the International Sepak Takraw Coaching Academy in Bangkok.
Men and women players from 28 countries representing the five Continents participated in this year’s championship. All matches were keenly contested and a great exhibition of acrobatic skills was on display throughout the seven-day championship to keep the huge crowds entertained.
The Sri Lanka women’s team of the Amateur Sepak Takraw Association of Sri Lanka comprising mostly of outstation girls performed beyond expectations. Participating in a contest of this nature for the first time they registered victories over Iran and Pakistan and lost to the strong Indian and Cambodian teams and were able to win the Bronze Medal, with a little bit of luck they could have secured the Silver medal. In the Double Event too the girls reached the semi-finals but lost to the strong Philippines team. The Sri Lankan girls won the admiration of all spectators with their never-say-die attitude throughout the contest. The Sri Lanka team was represented by Anusha Sandamali, Sashini Samarasinghe, Tharushi Herath, Ishara Madumali, Haruni Rusmila, Kelani Palpita and Wansala Madawanthi.
The Sri Lanka men’s team consisted of mostly by outstation students and youth from the Mabole and the Colombo Malay Cricket Club. In spite of their inexperience they rose up to the occasion and reached the semi-finals of their respective events of Regu, Double, and Team Events.
They registered victories over Pakistan and Bangladesh in the Regu and Double events. The Sri Lanka men’s teams were represented by T.A.Falill, M.A. Ahamat, W.D. Soysa, K.K.I.Srimal, K.Ameer, T.Z. Hadjie, M.L. Marjan, A. Asmone, Nipun Bandara, Vimukthi Bandara, Charuka Gunatilake, Janaka Athapaththu and Nadun Bawantha.