KORAT, Dec 16 (Bernama) -- The Sepak Takraw Association of Malaysia's (PSM) decision to cite safety reasons for not participating in the Korat SEA Games could just be a lame excuse.
According to the countries which participated, there were no problems as to the safety or performance of the new Marathon Gen-II rubber-coated ball used during the sepak takraw competition throughout the Games.
After 11 days of competition at the Nakhon Ratchasima Mall here which ended yesterday, no injuries were recorded or reported in the men's or women's competitions.
Indonesia's assistant coach, Mustakim, when interviewed, said that throughout the sepak takraw competition, none of his players suffered any injuries.
He personally felt that this ball was safer then the old one (without rubber-coating) as its surface was softer and smoother.
"We only trained three months with the Marathon-Gen II before coming here (Korat). None of our players had any complaints about the safety or performance of the ball. In fact, they were very happy with it," he said.
Vietnam coach, Tung Lap Ha, though concurring with Mustakim, however, questioned the haste by the International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) in wanting the ball to be used at this SEA Games.
He was unhappy that his players had only three months to familiarise themselves with it.
The ball became a subject of controversy as the Malaysian sepak takraw contingent pulled out of the Korat Games because of it, the first time Malaysia had withdrawn from the event in the history of the Games.
PSM president Datuk Ahmad Ismail when announcing Malaysia's withdrawal from the Games had claimed that it was not safe for the players and that its bounce was also inconsistent.
The decision earned the ire of many. They felt the action had tarnished Malaysia's image and was unfair to the players who had trained hard in preparing for the Korat SEA Games.
The men's and women's sepak takraw competition at this Games offered a total of eight gold. the most so far for sepak takraw in the SEA Games.
Meanwhile, ISTAF secretary-general Abdul Halim Kader asked all the participating teams to submit individual reports on the ball's performance to avoid further controversy in future.
"We welcome feedback from the teams that competed (in the Korat Games). So far we have received written reports from
Indonesia and the Philippines who have stated that that they are happy with the new ball," he said.