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The perseverance and hardships of the Sri Lanka Amateur Sepak Takraw Association are coming to fruition as they prepare to host the 2nd South Asian Sepak Takraw Championship 2017. The tournament will be held on 14th and 15th January 2017 at the St. Joseph’s College Auditorium, Colombo 10. Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan along with host Sri Lanka will be competing in both Men and Women categories.
The Championship is organized by the South Asian Sepak Takraw Federation (SASTAF) which was established in 2011 with the participation of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. The prime objective of the Federation was to develop and spread the game among the South Asian countries and conduct frequent competition among them, thus continuing the momentum of the game in the region. As a result, the first championship tournament was held in Katmandu, Nepal in 2012.
Hosting the championship in Sri Lanka is a monumental task as the Sri Lanka Association is a non-profit organization which has been surviving solely on the commitment of the officials and members be it conducting training programmes, developing the sport in school levels, conducting coaching camps, organizing tournaments and even weekly practices for international tournaments. Though Sepak Takraw has a long history in South East Asia, and was played in Sri Lanka as a street-side sport, the game was officially introduced in 1985 with demonstrations given by the Malaysian Embassy in Sri Lanka. The Sepak Takraw Federation was formed the same year but ceased to function by the end of 1990, which paved the way for the inception of the Amateur Sepak Takraw Association of Sri Lanka, with a membership of 5 clubs. The Women’s Team was formed in 1989. The Association was affiliated to the Sri Lanka Ministry of Sports in October 2015 and obtained Provisional Membership of the NOC in January 2016. It currently boasts of 14 Districts/Clubs and 5 schools in its cadre and is
a senior affiliated member of both the Asian and International Sepak Takraw Federations.
The pioneer and household name in the international Sepak Takraw federation T. N. Hajireen is the President of Sri Lanka Amateur Sepak Takraw Association. He is also the Senior Vice president of both international federations. A leading spokesperson and influential advocate, Hajireen was instrumental in drawing up laws and regulations for the sport in the South Asian circle as well as recommending the use of the synthetic ball along with the rattan ball, which resulted in the expansion of the game to colder climates such as the European countries.
The 2nd South Asian Championship will be a valuable platform to not only showcase the talents of the national teams, but also attract attention to the less known game in the country.
Weekend practice session at Police Field Force Head Quarters Grounds