Above: CPT Saifulbahri, Sepak Takraw team convenor, holding the winning plaque.
Meet CPT Saifulbahri Bin Mohd Idris, a training management officer at SCDF 1st Division HQ and one of the recipients of the Home Team Sports and Recreation Association (HTSRA) Merit Award 2020. This award acknowledges CPT Saifulbahri’s outstanding contribution as a Sports Convenor of SCDF’s Sepak Takraw.
Under CPT Saifulbahri’s guidance, SCDF’s Sepak Takraw team emerged as champions and runners-up for several tournaments in 2019 and in the early part of 2020 before the start of Covid-19 Circuit Breaker.
CPT Saifulbahri (standing, fourth from the left) with the SCDF’s Sepak Takraw players at the Singapore Sepak Takraw Federation(PERSES) Inter-Regu Tournament in 2019.
CPT Saifulbahri (standing, sixth from the left) among the SCDF’s Sepak Takraw players at the PERSES Marathon League Cup 2019 Finals.
“I assumed the role as a sports convenor since 2015 when I was a Rota Commander at Clementi Fire Station. I had a little bit of knowledge of Sepak Takraw but thanks to my team of veteran players, I learned more about the sport and honed the skill of managing the team over the years. I could not have achieved all these without the assistance of my 2IC, WO1 Herman Rahmat,” said CPT Saifulbahri.
Sepak Takraw, a sport native to Southeast Asia, literally means ‘kicking the ball’, and it was originally played in rattan ball. The game originated as far back as in the 15th century in the royal court of the Malacca Sultanate and was in fact mentioned in the Malay historical text, ‘Sejarah Melayu’ (Malay Annals).
In Sepak Takraw, players compete against their opponents in a volleyball-style game but within a badminton-sized court and with a net across the middle. However unlike volleyball, Sepak Takraw players are only allowed to use their feet, head, knees and chest to touch the ball.
“There are three different roles in the game,” explained CPT Saifulbahri. “One can play as the Tekong who serves the ball at the far end of the court, the feeder who ensures that the ball does not touch the ground, or the striker whose role is to strike the ball past the net to ensure the opponent cannot return the ball.”
Twelve players are needed to start a game of Sepak Takraw. Within the game, four players will compete against their opponent in each of the three sets. The game ends when the winning team wins two of the three sets by scoring more points than their opponent.
SCDF’s Sepak Takraw team emerged as champion and runners-up for five tournaments in 2019. From left: Inter-Regu Sepak Takraw Championship 2019 (2nd Runner-up); Chua Chu Kang & Cashew Community Sports Club (CSC) Inter-Regu Invitation Under 25 Category Sepak Takraw Tournament 2019 (Champion); PERSES National League (1st Runner-up); Public Service Star Games 2020 Sepak Takraw Inter-team Tournament (Champion); PERSES Sepak Takraw Inter-Regu Open 2019 (1st Runner-up).
SCDF’s Sepak Takraw team was 1st Runner-up for the Home Team Games in 2018 (right medal) and emerged as champion in 2019 (left medal).
“Nowadays, more youths prefer e-sports, such as soccer in video games, to physical sports. Hence it is rare to see anyone playing Sepak Takraw in the neighbourhood these days. During my adolescence, Sepak Takraw was such a lively and popular sport in Singapore, especially in the Malay community,” CPT Saifulbahri remarked. “Thus, when I assumed the role as a Sports Convenor to manage the SCDF’s Sepak Takraw team, I see it as my responsibility to keep the sport’s tradition alive, and not let it fades away from the course of our local sports’ history.”
The SCDF’s Sepak Takraw team members commit themselves to a regular training regime on every Tuesday and Thursday at SCDF 1st Division HQ after working hours. Career officers and full-time national servicemen (NSFs) are welcome to join them in their weekly practices. However, to be a member of the team, to don the SCDF’s Sepak Takraw jersey and be qualified to represent SCDF in any tournament, an individual has to consistently prove his competency in the sport.
“This sport does not need to be competitive all the time, and you do not always have to be the best in the world. At the end of the day, every sport allows players from all walks of life, races, young and old, as well as career officers and NSFs, to forge lasting friendship and camaraderie. It is what bonds people together,” said CPT Saifulbahri.