Super Bowl Grant Brings First U.S. Courts for Southeast Asian Sport to Minnesota
Sepak Takraw of USA's White Dragon Team from Minnesota, wearing black, playing against a Karen-American team from Phoenix, Arizona in red at the Skillcon Sepaktakraw Open in Las Vegas, December 2016.Courtesy of Sepak Takraw of USA
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“With changing demographics in Minnesota, it is most fitting that the City of St. Paul’s Park and Recreation Department change its field usage to accommodate the changing needs of the community,” Lee Pao Xiong, director of the Center for Hmong Studies at St. Paul’s Concordia University and chair of Sepak Takraw of USA, told NBC News. “Since St. Paul has the largest urbanized Hmong population in the United States, and a large and growing Karen population, it is most fitting that we start this movement here in this city.”
Sepak Takraw of USA plans to create programming around these courts to develop players, clubs, and leagues for both men and women, as well as help prepare teams to compete nationally and internationally.
Teams from St. Paul have represented the United States in international tournaments, including the King's Cup in Thailand, the world championships of the sport, according to Xiong. Minnesota teams have also competed against other U.S.-based squads. There are currently sepak takraw teams in Texas, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada, according to Xiong.
“Most importantly of all, we want to get ready so that when the time comes for this sport to be an Olympic sport, we would have teams that can represent the United States of America,” Xiong said.
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a freelance writer and speaker based in Michigan and Hawaii. She has been a contributor for AAPIVoices.com, NewAmericaMedia.org, ChicagoIsTheWorld.org, PacificCitizen.org, InCultureParent.com. She has published three chapbooks of prose poetry and been included in several journals, anthologies, and art exhibitions. She teaches Asian Pacific American Studies and writing, and she speaks nationally on Asian Pacific American issues.