Football fanatics can feel right at home here in Indonesia, where the game is played regularly on street corners and school sporting facilities and English Premier League matches dominate the televisions of expat watering holes. But that’s not all Indonesia has to offer and for the truly sports mad Indonesia has a rich sporting history into which to dive. Who knows, maybe you’ve found your next hobby?
Bend it Like Sepak Takraw
Sepak Takraw is best characterized as kick volleyball, where players use their feet to kick a small rattan ball across the net. It is a popular game across Southeast Asia and is hotly contested in regional bouts. Teams feature three players and games take part on a court similar in size to a badminton court.
The game is believed to have its origins in 15th century Malacca, in modern-day Malaysia, with frequent references in historical texts. Similarly, across Southeast Asia centuries old references to the game can be found, such as in a mural in Bangkok painted in the 1700s.
Originally, the game was more of a performance of ball control and tricks but by the 1940s had been formalized into the net game we know today. Competition is tough, including at this year’s Southeast Asia Games in Kuala Lumpur this month, which saw controversy after the Indonesian women’s team stormed out of the event.
Fight Like a Pencak Silat Star
Pencak Silat is a form of martial arts which was developed in Indonesia before spreading across Southeast Asia. Matches are a master class in full-body fighting and intense cardio, along with the skilled use of weaponry.
Pencak silat has its roots in the pre-colonial era and it is believed to have first begun when Indian influences melded with Batak and Bugis fighting styles. As far back as the sixth century in Riau can we find evidence of the formalized style practised today.
During the fight for independence the Indonesian Pencak Silat Association was founded and reflected nationalism and patriotism values. Pencak Silat is now taught in many schools across Indonesia as well as further out in Southeast Asia.
Winning Gold in Badminton
Indonesia is by no means the first country to play badminton, but it does give other countries a run for their money when it comes to passion for the game. The sport has been Indonesia’s most successful when competing internationally and every win is celebrated widely, as seen during last year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro which saw the Indonesian mixed doubles side bring home the gold.
Indonesia’s national sides enjoy huge success in international tournaments, although that has somewhat waned in recent years much to the concern of the game’s authorities. The country also plays host to its own international tournaments, including the famous Indonesia Open which has been held each year since 1982. Largely based in Jakarta, the tournament has also been hosted in other cities around the country further spreading the love of the game.