second most popular Thai sport is probably takraw. The difference
between this sport and Thai boxing is that takraw is played every
day, in every city, town, village, farm, temple or wherever there
is space. The aim of this game is to keep a woven rattan ball about
12 centimetres in diameter in the air for as long as possible by
using the feet, knees, elbows, and head but not the hands. There
are three different types: Takraw wong or circle takraw, sepak takraw
or net takraw, and takraw lot huang or hoop takraw.
The most common version of the game is circle takraw. The ball
is passed from player to player and each is given points for style,
consistency and retrieval of diffi cult balls. After a set time
or a set number of throws, the highest score determines the winner.
sepak takraw, a head-high badminton net separates two threeman teams.
The ball is tossed into play and served over the net by a kick.
The rules are as for volleyball except that a player may touch the
ball three successive times, though never with his hands. Players
pass, set up and spike in a series of pirouettes and somersaults.
The most spectacular move is the 360-degree airborne cartwheel spike.
In hoop takraw, a team of six or more players stands at the perimeter
of a circle. Hoops are suspended over the centre and the players
must hit the ball through them during a 30-minute period. Each successive
team tries to surpass the previous teams score.
Circle takraw can be seen throughout the country in informal games
played by young men in their lunch hours on any available piece
of waste ground. Hoop takraw is normally played at Sanam Luang during
the hot season; while net takraw is played at the National Stadium
on Rama I Road, tel: 0 2214 0121; and at Hua Mak Stadium on Ramkhamhaeng
Road, tel: 0 2318 0940-4. More information can be obtained from
the Takraw Association of Thailand, tel: 0 2281 1038 and 0 2281
1054. A takraw ball is also a popular souvenir for tourists.