They only just received official recognition earlier this month, but in a matter of weeks, a Karen sepak takraw team will be playing their first international match, in Thailand.
At the 32nd King’s Cup Sepak Takraw Championship in Thailand the New Zealand men’s national sepak takraw team will compete in the doubles category.
“I don’t dare to expect a lot because this is our first international competition but we will do our best,” said Saw Eh Myo Oo, the team’s leader. “I feel very excited because I have achieved my dream to play cane ball together with international players. Our fans are our main strength so please continue to support us.”
The sepak takraw team met with officials from the Sport and Recreation New Zealand via the New Zealand Karen Association from Palmerston North (NZKA) in order to gain official approval. They were given the rubber stamp this month.
Saw Eh Myo Oo and his teammate Saw Chit Myo will arrive in Thailand on November 27.
Fans from the Karen diaspora are already planning on going to cheer on the Karen players at the December 11-17 Bangkok competition.
“Since our Karen men will be competing, we will go and support them if we have free time,” said Saw Eh Tho, joint secretary of the Overseas Karen Refugees’ Social Organization from Bangkok.
Saw Eh Myo Oo and Saw Chit Moe were born in the Karen State and were resettled from the Umphiem Mai refugee camp to New Zealand in early 2016 under the UN refugee agency’s program.