Pilipinas Sepaktakraw Association Inc. (PASTA) President, Karen Tanchangco-Caballero posted via social media last July 25, 2018 that a national league for sepaktakraw is already in the works which will commence sometime in 2019.
The development is a very welcome one for the progressive state of sepaktakraw, an organised version of the sport known locally as “sipa”, in the country that could further raise the level of competition for local practitioners of the sport.
With the current progress (in terms of accreditation) of clubs that eager to participate, with a projected number of 28 squads, it seems that the pool is ripe for a nationwide-scale league competition come 2019.
Each of the major regions (Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao) across the Philippines will be represented with the addition of an expatriate team based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Sepaktakraw is a popular competitive sport across the Southeast Asian region with the strongest followings in Thailand and Malaysia which, in turn, are the best performing national teams in history.
In the Philippines, the sport has relatively the highest level of following in Mindanao with strong niche followings from the rest of the other regions.
From a worldwide perspective, the sport is gaining traction internationally with East Asians South Korea and Japan as emerging powerhouses from outside Southeast Asia. It is currently also being played competitively at an almost worldwide scale in varying levels of competitiveness.
It’s appeal as a sport to an international audience is due to its gameplay that resembles a fusion of volleyball and football, in which players tend to showcase high levels of techniques and athleticism in their attempts to score with their gravity defying “strikes” that are truly entertaining to watch.
Going back to the local viewpoint, the sport is being seen as a potential team sport with a very promising future as the national team started to improve lately with podium finishes in international competitions.
The watershed moment of the Philippine National Sepak Takraw squads was achieved by the men’s team last 2016 in the King’s Cup Championship in Thailand where the Philippines won the gold medal in the Doubles Premier Division beating powerhouses Thailand and Myanmar.
With this achievement, it proved that the Philippines can shine in the sport as the national governing body, PASTA, aims to ride the momentum by further enhancing the grassroots program in the country with several trainings and clinics, and with the mentioned future national league.
Aside from the gold medal in the King’s Cup, the Philippines’ steady rise in the sport has been evident with an unprecedented silver medal for the men’s last 2015 SEA games in Singapore and a third place finish in the 2014-15 ISTAF Super Series which was a first-time podium finish as well. As of late, the men’s team were also able to snap up a silver medal in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, a testament to their consistent progress.
Come 2019 a new dawn in Philippine Sepaktakraw is arriving that would only bode well for the development of this uniquely Southeast Asian sport that is naturally full of flair, athleticism and self-expression, with a bigger view of the country becoming a contender in the international stage in the near future.
Photo credit: Karen Tanchangco-Caballero Facebook Page