There can not be many people living in Thailand today who have not watched a game of volleyball, it’s almost a national sport along with soccer and ta-kraw.
But how many have ever watched, or even heard of sitting volleyball? It is a game played by people with disabilities, and was introduced into the Paralympics in 1980. Thailand has never qualified for the Paralympics in this discipline but it recently hosted an international friendly competition, inviting teams from Malaysia and Cambodia, and they played at the Technological College for People with Disabilities here in Pattaya.
Rules of sitting volleyball are based on the regular rules for standing volleyball, except the court is smaller, the net much lower and players must have at least one buttock on the court whenever they make contact with the ball. Easier said than done, especially when the ball is out of reach and if only you could lift up one inch you would have the ball. But rules are rules and the two umpires ensure they are strictly followed.
Almost half the players in the competition were missing a limb due to traffic or farming accidents, and there were those from rural Thailand and from Cambodia who were victims of landmines. Other players were born with lower limb deformities, but they came together to play a sport that is popular throughout ASEAN countries.
Cambodia were the eventual winners of the two-day competition and all three teams will meet again in January next year when they participate in the 2020 ASEAN Paragames, which will be taking place in the Philippines. While the recent competition may have been friendly, at the January competition there will be eleven teams competing and the rivalry will be fierce.