Entry: kicks Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Asian Games have been going on recently, and I've been getting updates from my students about how Thailand is doing (mostly %&$*ing soccer scores). I haven't been watching the games because we don't have a TV, but I have seen a few shots here and there on other TVs scattered around my usual routes.

One of these places is a restaurant down the road which has a big-screen TV. I usually ignore it while we're eating, because they're usually showing a %&$*ing soccer (foot-bon) game, and I don't like %&$*ing soccer. (See, I started out with ambivalent feelings about %&$*ing soccer, but it seems like I've developed an actual strong dislike for the sport.)

*digression alert*

One of the reasons I don't like %&$*ing soccer is that it's boring - 'pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-pass-shoot-miss'. Again. They always miss. A genius like David Beckham has one job - kick this little ball in such a way as to somehow get it into this house-sized net. He does nothing but this job - he has practiced it his whole life, and 99% of the time, he misses...and he's one of the best at this job in the world. Most matches end up 0-0, and that seems ok with most soccer fans (supporters, sorry). I'm told that the excitement is in the set-up - the 90 minutes of passing and missing is supposedly a glorious poem of strategy and athletic grace. Sure - wake me up if someone, anyone, ever scores. No wonder there are so many giant brawls and riots at footie matches - it's all that pent-up frustration from years of scoreless games, watching the best in the world repeatedly kick a ball anywhere but into the actual net. I think I could be the greatest soccer player in history - I virtually guarantee that I can miss that net every time.

*thus endeth the digression*

Anyway, one night a couple of weeks ago, the restaurant with the big-screen was showing something other than the usual fare, and what I saw made me put the chopsticks down and stare in amazement. They were showing the finals of the 'Seprak Takraw' tournament at the Asian Games, between Thailand and Malaysia.

Seprak Takraw is a bit like volleyball, except that players are not allowed to touch the ball (woven bamboo or plastic) with their hands. Three to a side, played on a court the size of a doubles badminton court, with a volleyball-height net across the middle. Imagine this sport for a second - how would you get a ball over the net without using your hands, at speeds which make it difficult to return? Martial arts maneuvers and bicycle-kicks, right? Right.

Look at THIS .

Action...athleticism...non-stop scoring...the Thai team eventually won the gold, but I think they all deserve big prizes just for excelling at something so very very bizarre.

Sara has declared it her new favourite sport. I'm sticking with hockey, but I will say this - Seprak Takraw beats the shortpants off %&$*ing soccer any day of the week.



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