Women sepak takraw players preparing for the 25th SEA Games later this year in Vientiane won a friendship tournament on Saturday in Savannakhet province against a Thai team.

The Lao National Sepak Takraw Federation had invited the women's team from Mahasarakarm province in Thailand for a friendly tournament, contested by three teams from each province.

The first Lao team to play won its match with a score of 21-12 and 21-17. But the second team lost with a score of 18-21, 21-16 and 9-15. But after the third game when Laos achieved a score of 21-15, 21-14, Laos was declared the winner.

Because the event was very closely contested, the women decided to play a further match, which Laos again won with a score of 21-18.

Coach Lamphone Souvanvong said the event had been useful because it had allowed him to see his players' weak points. They would work on these together so the women could perfect their skills ahead of the SEA Games in December.

The federation is seeking more matches with local players and teams from neighbouring countries to get in plenty of match practice before the big event.

Coach Lamphone reported that 42 sepak takraw players, including 21 men and 21 women, had been taking part in practice matches in Savannakhet province since April.

They train at the Savannakhet Sepak Takraw Centre, which is fully equipped and has large grounds where players can train.

“They have been able to improve their tactics and skills. What we want to do now is test them out against various sepak takraw players from neighbouring countries so we can take note of their weak points and improve things before the games,” Mr Lamphone said.

He said almost 80 percent of the athletes were ready to compete in Thailand , in events such as the King's Cup.

“There are still a few small problems that need ironing out. Some of the players were only chosen last month for training at the centre and still not familiar with our rules so we have to bring them up the same standard at the other players.”

A member of the men's team, Sampien Somsamaivong, said they needed to strengthen their leg muscles a lot more as well as improve their general fitness before taking part in tournaments in Thailand .

“Since we've been training at the centre we've improved a lot. Both men and women are following the rules, which govern training, meals and other aspects,” he said.

By Souknilundon in Savannakhet

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