Local sepaktakraw fans are in for some exciting times with the revamped SepakTakraw League (STL) Malaysia 2016 edition, with all matches to be broadcast live for the very first time.
Viewers can tune into Astro Arena (Channel 801) on Astro TV and Astro on the Go from 23rd September 2016 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for live sepak takraw action, which will culminate with the grand finals on 11th December 2016.
Nishant Sehgal, General Manager of Asia Sports Ventures said, "We had over 4 million viewers for the 2014/15 inaugural league and in 2015, this went up to 5.1 million. This is a sure sign of progress in our quest to make STL the best sepaktakraw league in the world. ASV also aims to enhance fan participation and create a stronger connection over the league’s rebranding exercise with the introduction of the #inimilikkita campaign.”
With all eight teams from the previous season returning this year, the quest for the ultimate sepaktakraw glory in Malaysia will be even more challenging as the league's talent pool is further consolidated with only eight fixed players per team roster. The competing teams are Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Malacca and last year's STL Malaysia champions, Armed Forces (ATM).
To rev up the thrill factor, a new format will be introduced where each team will play against their opponents twice during the regular season. The top four teams with the best win-loss record will move on to the semi-finals.
Lee Choong Khay, Astro Vice President of Sports Business, said, “We are continuing our efforts to increase the popularity of sepaktakraw. To this end, Astro Arena will be doubling its live broadcast of STL to 90 hours in season 2016, as well as providing match highlights, behind the scenes coverage and in-depth reporting on the teams and players. With such extensive coverage of STL, our sponsors and partners will have a more effective platform to reach the growing number of STL fans.”
He added, “Since 2010, Astro has been investing in Astro Arena, Malaysia’s first and only dedicated 24/7 local sports channel that showcases local sports and our athletes to a larger TV audience in Malaysia and beyond. This has certainly come true for sepaktakraw with every season of STL.”
A grand cash prize of RM40,000 awaits the winner, while the runner up will walk away with RM20,000. The third-placed team goes home with RM10,000, while RM5,000 goes to the team finishing fourth.
"The joint decision between ASV and PSM to consolidate the teams into a single Regu squad is targeted at increasing the level of competition in the league which in turn will help the development of our national team by having our players play with only the top sepaktakraw players in Malaysia in preparation for our quest for gold in the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games 2017," said Dato’ Haji Ahmad Ismail, President of Persatuan Sepaktakraw Malaysia (PSM).
Running in tandem with STL 2016, will be the STL Division I, which will consist of the remaining PSM affiliated teams, where the top 2 teams will be promoted to STL in the next edition while the 2 teams with the worst win-loss record will be relegated to STL Division I. Division I updates will be available exclusively on all STL social media platforms.
Dato’ Haji Ahmad added, “With the creation of STL Division I, we have created a platform which will enable all our players to continue honing their skills. The prospect of moving up into STL for the next season will definitely increase the skills level of our Division I team players.”