Meet Newcastle’s roguest sports team: The Takraw Society

You learn something new every day


Sepak Takraw is a sport which originates in South East Asia, and the best way to describe it would be as a twist between football and volleyball.

And now there’s a society at Newcastle which allows you to play at a competitive level.

We sat down with Will Gollins, Society Social Sec and third year Chemistry student and John Haswell, President as well as third year history student, to spread the message.

So what actually is Takraw?

Football volleyball. There’s three players on each team, and it has the same rules as Volleyball – so if the ball hits the net or the ground you lose a point. However, unlike Volleyball, players are only allowed to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball. Like football, touching the ball with your hands constitutes a foul.

The ball is made of solid plastic, so doing a header with it probably feels like being kicked in the head, but Will assured me the ball “loosens up” throughout the course of the game.

The ball, which is as solid as a brick

The ball, which is as solid as a brick

How is it pronounced?

Like Tak-row, as in a row of shops.

How long has there been a Takraw society at Newcastle University?

We set up the society at the end of last the 2014-2015 academic year, just before Summer. I discovered the game on a gap year in Malaysia, where they play Takraw a lot. I had no idea what it was before going there, but I loved it so much I wanted to bring it back with me to Newcastle, where I introduced it to everyone and we set up the society.

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Who’s on the committee?

Aside from John and Will (president and social sec), there’s also a sizeable committee, pictured below:

John Haswell – President

Jack Taylor – Safety and Equipment Officer

Dan Lewis – Web Page Editor

Charlie Carr – Secretary

Will Gollins – Social Sec

Jamie Shaw – First Team Coach/Taxi Sec

Tom Woollins – Treasurer

The Takraw ladz

The Takraw ladz

How many team members are there overall?

So there are 20-25 paid members, 23 of those are boys so we’d like to get more of a mix in there to be honest. There are 12 loyal members who come to most if not all of the training sessions, which are 7pm-8pm on Fridays and 11am-12 on Sundays.

There are also two team members who are from Malaysia and it’s insane how good they are, they literally do backflips and everything.

Takraw is obviously quite unknown in the UK, are there any other Unis with Takraw teams?

Finding teams to compete with can sometimes be difficult so we usually compete against each other, but I think Hull has a team.

Our vice president does Marine Biology an has contacts in the Army, he’s trying to organise an Army team so that we can compete against them. We’re planning a game against them before Easter.

Playing Takraw

Playing Takraw

Are there any championships?

With it being quite difficult to secure games with UK teams we decided we were going to try and organise our own championship. It was only supposed to be national at first but when we asked a Takraw team in London they suggested it would be a better idea to create a world Takraw champions league, and a few Facebook messages later we’d managed to gather teams from Belgium; Germany and, of course; Malaysia to play. They’ll all be coming to Newcastle on the 16th-17th April in the Uni sports centre, anybody is welcome to come along and watch.

What’s your favourite Newcastle bar/club?

MSA – the perfect mix of chilled bar and intimate club

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Any chat up lines?

We both love Harry Potter, so anything to do with that to be honest.

Is your name Oliver Wood? cause you look like keeper.