Any game is identified by its player. A similar game is Speak Tarawa. This sport is mostly played in Southeastern countries like Malaysia and Thailand. This game is not yet popular in India, but any sport is popular only when its players attract people to their performance. One such player is Geeta Basani, who is giving Speak Tarawa recognition to her talent in India.
Although the Speak Tarawa has been played in Southeastern countries since the 15th century, but it was first demonstrated in India during 1951 Delhi Asian Games. Since then, the game has been organized somewhere, but this game has long been an unknown game for Indians. Sepak Takraw Federation of India was formally formed in 1998. But today the situation is different. Now this game is not very unknowable for India. When Gita Basani came to know about this game, then she was very young, but she had an interest in the game, that was understood by her Hemraj coach and started training Ms. Basani. Every day morning and evening, the practice of the players in the playground had deep influence on Ms. Basani which through her pursuation made her reach with zeal achieve her goal. Ms. Basani was playing Kabaddi initially for the school earlier but realized that her true passion lies in Sepak Takraw and decided to focus on it only. From that day of her decision, the difference in her life and the historically in the sport arena. The miraculous developments steadily knocked out the other teams within a short time. Ms. Basani’s escalation is highly steep, successfully and skillful. On September 27, 2006, as Captain for Kings Cup, International was greatly appreciated “as Bharath Geeta” for the skills and techniques performed in the game and for the representation.
Ms. Basani beginning her participation ever since she entered 12 years of age. From then her addiction towards the game continued rigorously and made her enough competent to stay success in the game. Ms. Basani, achieved several trophies, medals, various awards and rewards all through her life till date.
Now, Sepak Takraw soon traveled to other parts of the country. The federation held demonstrations in major cities, organizing national championships. India made its first appearance at the world Speak Tarawa championship in Bangkok. The women’s team came back with the silver and the men won the bronze. The following year, the men’s team won the gold in Regus event. Many people became aware of this sport after our champions brought home the Bronze in Asian Games 2018 held at Jakarta, Palembang.
The historic feat has opened up new doors for the game as well as for players who come from humble backgrounds. Indeed Manipur along with Mizoram, Nagaland and parts of New Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have seen the sport flourish. Till date, 27 nationals in the senior category and 22 sub-junior and junior national championships have been held in three decades. But the breakthrough for Sepak Takraw for India came when the SAI (Sports Authority of India) adopted it in 2000.
The inclusion of the sport at the Manipur National Games in 1999 and every other nationals since, has also helped. The inter-university games also included the discipline as five SAI centers – Delhi, Bareilly, Aizawl, Imphal and Dimapur – now train athletes in the sport.
“At that time, the sport was available in certain schools and if you took an interest in it, you could compete in it,” said coach Dr. S. R. Premraj, the head coach of the Indian team since 2009 and the Vice-President of International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTF) and Secretary of Telangana State Sepak Takraw Association (TSSTA), and TSTA
The nationals, which had barely four to five states participating at that time now see representation from 25 of STFI’s 29 affiliate units, says Dr. S. R. Premraj, who took up the sport in school in 1991, adding the team’s started participating internationally from the 2004 Kings’ Cup, a prestigious competition in Thailand.
She played for India also held the once-in-four years World Cup in Telengana, which saw the contingent finish with a bronze in 2017 to add to the silver that the team won at the Asian Sepak Takraw Championships in 2017. Geeta Basani has now become an icon of Indian Speak Tarawa. Looking at Basani’s performance, the trend towards this game is increasing in new players. We are proud to have her today in the legacy of Sepak Takraw as a role model for her spirits, encouragement, strive with determination to reach the goal.