Kuala Lumpur (25 July 2017): Pegged as Malaysia’s TOP sepaktakraw League, STL houses the nations TOP players as they duke it out yearly for the bragging right of being the nation’s best!
When the league started, the main goal was to provide a platform for Malaysian sepaktakraw players to showcase their skills and talents that can help pave the path for future sepaktakraw players to build a career out of the sport. STL has just gotten a huge boost with the introduction of the Champions Cup; a double knock – out international invitational where STL’s champions will compete against some of Southeast Asia’s (SEA) best of the best clubs.
Youth and Sports Minister, YB Brigadier General Khairy Jamaluddin acknowledged STL as a competent way of discovering players with exceptional talents that could help to enhance both the league and the quality of the sport.
"STL is an excellent platform to gauge any hidden gifts amongst the players, enabling them to be discovered, which will then lead to an opportunity of developing their careers and perhaps earning them a place in the national team later on. This will surely benefit the league and further hike the value of sepaktakraw. After all, we can see for ourselves that the players featuring in STL are the ones representing the country in the KL SEA Games 2017,” said Khairy.
Not forgetting the extensive amount of effort Astro and Asia Sports Ventures (ASV) had invested and still investing in STL, the value of sepaktakraw in the country enjoyed a well-deserved boost. Its popularity has flourished out of sight and also played a vital part in helping the national team advance in the world rankings. Malaysia are now second behind world champions Thailand.
The Vice-President of Sports Business Content Group Astro, Lee Choong Khay said he is encouraged to see the positive response for STL since its launch.
"After 3 seasons, we are pleased to see the revival of sepaktakraw among Malaysians. Viewership of STL has been growing yearly, hitting a new record of 5.6 million viewers in the 2016 season versus with 4.8 million viewers a year earlier. Compared with the 2015 season, the number of viewers has increased by 17%,” said Choong Khay.
With the league rebranding in 2016, the league saw a renewed interest within the younger Malaysians as its digital reach recorded a 200% increase as the Facebook page has grown to a remarkable 105,000 followers, whereas the number of followers on its Instagram profile escalated to over 18,000 with thousands of international content shares engaging millions worldwide.
In addition of catching all STL action on Astro Arena Channel 801 & 802HD, Astro Supersport and Astro Go, fans will now be able to also tune in to NJOI Now, which is Malaysia’s first subscription-free satellite TV service for extensive STL 2017 coverage. With both Astro and NJOI Now, it offers a total reach of 21 million Malaysians on all screens which we hope to drive viewership of STL even higher this season.
STL 2016 which lasted for 10 weeks became the longest running sepaktakraw tournament the nation has ever witnessed. On certain weekends, the viewership amounted to approximately 900,000 viewers per day. In view of STL’s continuous improvement every year, 10 client brands decided to place their trust in the league and offer their support in building the sport. Among the leading sponsors of STL 2017 are Thai sports equipment company, Football Thai Factory Sporting Goods (FBT).
Given the impressive performances by all teams in STL 2016 when a new format was introduced, fans can be sure that STL 2017 will have more thrilling action in store as the competition is expected to be even keener this time round with the use of the same state-based inter “regu” format.
Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad Ismail, President of Persatuan Sepaktakraw Malaysia (PSM), expressed his hopes for the upcoming league.
"Personally, I have high hopes for the upcoming STL season because judging from last year’s edition, it was very well played and the end result was an unpredictable surprise for everyone. Hence, I shall keep an open mind and look forward to being awed by the teams this time round,” said Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad Ismail.
Returning to STL 2017 are last season’s champions Penang Black Panthers, joined by teams from Johor, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu, ATM Guardians as well as two newcomers, Perak Bisons and Selangor Pistons. STL Division 1 on the other hand, will comprise of 12 teams among which includes PDRM Defenders, Kedah Eagles, Melaka Titans and Perlis Vipers who will all be gunning to be champions. All 14 Malaysian states will be represented by the teams competing in STL 2017.
Serdang Jaya Municipal Council Stadium will continue to host this year’s STL starting on Sept 29 with the STL Champions Cup grand final to be played on Dec 23. Fans can catch the ongoing sepaktakraw action every Friday from 8 to 11pm and 4 to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday for a period of 12 weeks by tuning in to Astro Arena Channel 801 & 802HD, Astro Supersport, Astro Go and NJOI TV. For further information on STL 2017, log on to http://stl.my/ or STL Facebook page and Instagram.