Getting Active in Asia: Team Sports

Chinlone Skills in Myanmar

Chinlone is a national sport in Myanmar and is played across Asia under a variety of names, though is most commonly referred to as Sepak takraw. This fast paced and highly skilled game uses a small and light rattan ball with rules resembling a mix of volleyball and soccer. Young men play it by performing fast reaction movements that use their whole body (only hands cannot touch it).

It can be played with three or more people on each side of the net, much like beach volleyball, except in this game they serve using their feet. It’s very fast and quite impressive as they often perform overhead scissor kicks or reverse kicks just above the net. Passing to team members is allowed but if you let the ball touch the floor then you lose possession.

May in Myanmar welcomes the chinlone festival to Mandalay, though in many rural areas and even close to the palace walls it is possible to see players enjoying a game at any time of year.

Watch our video and experience the Chinlone Festival in Mandalay:

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Japanese Baseball Traditions

Compared to the other popular sports such as soccer, Japanese baseball has a long history following its introduction in 1872 when it developed its own tradition and style. Since then it has become very much a part of Japanese daily life. High school baseball tournaments and championships are still held every spring and summer. School students and fans cheer on their teams in unison to raucous chants and live music played by a brass band. The big games are broadcasted on TV and every news channel has a special slot dedicated to them.

The playing style is totally different from that of the USA. If you have ever watched Samurai Japan in the world championship, you might notice Japanese players focusing much more on team work, while American players prefer dynamic individual performances – so called “big ball”. Those who are accustomed to the American baseball games always encounter a culture shock when watching the game in Japan. Playing style, technique and some of the rules are different, but what will grab your attention is the special atmosphere in the stadium – there is never a moment of quiet.

There are two baseball stadiums in Tokyo, both in the center of the city. Tokyo Dome Stadium is close to the Imperial Palace and Meiji Jingu Stadium is accessible from Shinjuku or Shibuya station. The baseball season in Japan starts at the end of March with games starting at 18:00. The regular season ends in October when the Climax series starts.

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