Indigenous and traditional sports of Singapore

Indigenous and traditional sports of Singapore

=Chinese Hopscotch=

Traditional games are a significant part of our cultural heritage. They reflect the ingenuity and resourcefulness of our forefathers in creating their own games by using inexpensive materials for their pastimes and recreation.

With modernisation, we have lost some of our socio-cultural heritage. Economic, social and environmental changes such as the disappearance of closely-knit kampongs and villages have led to the demise of some of our traditional games. Though simple, these games have cultural and social value. They encourage children to exercise their ingenuity and help develop their social skills, especially in fostering team spirit in school and in the neighbourhood.

Most indigenous games of Singapore are also played in the Southeast Asian region. Games like "congkak", "capteh", "gasing", sepak raga/takraw and others are played in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, although the versions may vary. Games such as "Main Lereng" and "Bola Tin" are two other popular games invented by local children in the post-war era. Some of these indigenous games are still played in some households, today.

This gallery, thus, aims at entertaining and linking younger Singaporeans with their past, by reminding them of the games played by their forefathers.

Main Lereng (Bicycle Rim)

This game was innovated by children in the late 50s in Singapore. With much energy to spare and no computer games to keep them occupied, children in that era were very innovative and find many ways to amuse themselves. This is one of many games innovated during that era.

Method of play

1 Basically, a bicycle rim (lereng) and a stick are used to play the game.

2 Two parallel lines are drawn 5metres apart, one marking the starting line, the other, the finishing.

3 The rim is held upright and when the signal is given to begin, it is thrust forward with the stick.

4 The player rolls it along with the stick, keeping the rim upright throughout until he reaches the finishing line.

5 The winner is the player who reaches the finishing line, first.

6 In team play, the game is played as a relay.

7 The player rolls it along with the stick, keeping the rim upright throughout until he reaches the finishing line.

8 The winner is the player who reaches the finishing line, first.

9 In team play, the game is played as a relay.

Bola Tin

In Malay, "bola" means "ball". Basically, it is a game using a ball to knock down a stack of tins that are arranged in a pyramid.

Method of Play

1. Empty tins of similar size are stacked up to form a pyramid.

2. Players are divided into two teams, e.g. A & B teams. The teams decide which team destroys the pyramid and which to rebuild it.

3. A line is drawn about 10 steps away from the pyramid. Assuming Team A destroys and Team B rebuilds, members of Team A will position themselves behind this line to begin their throws. Team B stands anywhere behind the tin pyramid.

4. Using a ball, each member of Team A is allowed two throws to destroy the tin pyramid. If he fails, the next member of the team gets into position to throw.

5. If Team A knocks down all the tins, both teams will rush for the ball. If a member of Team B gets the ball, he will throw it as far as possible so that his team members will have the time to rebuild the pyramid. If a member of Team A gets the ball, he will try to hit members of Team B or the tin pyramid. Any member of Team B who is hit before the pyramid is rebuilt, is considered "dead" and out of the game.

6. If the pyramid is completed before all the members of Team B are knocked out, Team B wins and the teams change sides.

However, if players of Team B are knocked out before the tin pyramid is completed, Team A wins and the game starts all over again.

epak Takraw


It is generally believed that sepak takraw was played as early as the 9th Century. Traditionally a game of the Malays in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, sepak takraw is also played in other Southeast Asian countries -- Philippines, Thailand, Burma and Laos. It is known by different names -- sepak raga, sipa, takraw, ching loong or kator. An enduring pastime, it combines the teamwork of volleyball, the dexterity of football and the fine finish of badminton. The net for the game was introduced in the 1920s.

Players and officials at Istana Kampong Glam in 1957, after the adoption of the sepak takraw rules. In 1957, players and officials gathered at Istana Kampong Glam to standardise sepak takraw rules. Since then, it has become an international sport as countries in Southeast Asia adopted these rules. Sepak raga continued to be played as a recreational game without the competitive element.

A Sepak Takraw Competition. Sepak takraw was introduced in the 3rd SEAP (Southeast Asia Peninsula) Games in 1965, and has since then, been a regular feature in the Games. As a result, ASTAF (Asian Sepak Takraw Federation) revised and standardised the rules for competitions. These rules and regulations have undergone several revisions over the years.

Try out our Sepak Takraw Game (Based on VRML)

Rules & Regulations

Revised on 23 Nov. 1996 at ISTAF (International Sepak Takraw Federation) Congress, Bangkok, Thailand.

The Court The Sepak Takraw BallPlayersGame rulesScoringDiscipline Officials General

The Court

Area of 13.4m x 6.1m free from all obstacles up to the height of 8m measured from the floor surface (sand and grass surface is not advisable). The width of the lines bounding the court shall not be more than 0.04m measured and drawn inwards from the edge of the court measurements. All the lines shall be drawn at least 3.0m away from all obstacles. The centre line of 0.02m shall be drawn equally dividing the court into two halves. At the intersection of the center line with each sideline, the quarter circle shall be drawn from the side line to the centre line with a radius of 0.9m measured and drawn outwards from the edge of the 0.9m radius.The service circle of 0.3m radius shall be drawn on the left and on the right court, the centre of which is 2.45m from the base lines of the court and 3.05m from the side lines, the 0.04m line shall be measured and drawn outward from the edge of the 0.3m radius.The posts shall be 1.55m for man and 1.45m for women in height from the floor and shall be sufficiently firm to keep the net strained. It shall be made from strong materials and shall not be more than 0.04m in radius.The posts shall be erected or placed 0.3m away from the side line and in line with the centre line.The net shall be made of fine ordinary cord or nylon with 0.06m to 0.08m mesh. The net shall be of 0.7m wide and not shorter than 6.10m in length and taped at both ends with 0.05m tape from top to bottom to be in line with court sidelines, called boundary tapesThe net shall be edged with 0.05m tape both at the top and the bottom of the net supported by a fine ordinary cord or nylon that runs through the tape and strains over and flushes with the top of the posts. The top of the net shall be 1.52m for man and 1.42m for women in height from the centre and 1.55m for man and 1.45m for women at the post.

The Sepak Takraw Ball

The Sepaktakraw ball shall be a sphere of one woven layer having 12 holes with 20 intersections. It shall be made of natural rattan or synthetic fiber. If it is made of rattan, it shall consist of 9-11 strains. The circumference shall not be less than 0.42m and not more than 0.44m for man and 0.43m to 0.45m for women. The weight before play shall not be less than 170 gm and not more than 180 gm for man and 150 gm to 160 gm for women.


The players shall wear jerseys/T-shirts and shorts for man and round neck T-shirts with sleeves, shorts length at knee level for women, and sports shoes with rubber soles. It is forbidden for players to wear anything that endangers themselves or the opponents during the game. In case of cold weather, the players are permitted to use track suits. The entire apparel of a player is regarded as part of his/her body. All jerseys/T-shirts shall be tucked in. Anything that helps to speed the ball or that helps the movement of a player is not allowed. Captain of each "Regu" shall wear an arm band on the left arm. All jerseys/T-shirts shall be numbered on the back. A player shall be assigned with a permanent number throughout the tournament. Only numbers 1-15 are allowed to be used by each participating team. The size of the number shall not be less than 19 cm in height.

Game Rules

The game is played between two "Regus" consisting of three players on each side. One of the three players shall be at the back, and he/she is called "Back". The other two players shall be in front, one on the left and the other on the right. The player on the left is called "Left Inside" and the player on the right is called "Right Inside".


Substitution of a player is allowed at any time on request made by the Team Manager to the Official Referee when the ball is not in play. Each "Regu" is allowed to make one substitution only. Player who is sent off by umpire during the game, shall be allowed to be substituted, provided the substitution has not been made. Any player having played in any "Regu" whether in the starting lineup or as a substitute shall not be allowed to play in another "Regu" for the team in the current game. Any "Regu" having less than 3 players shall not be allowed to continue the game and will be considered as having lost.

The Toss and Warm Up

Before commencing the game, the umpire shall toss disc and the side winning the toss shall have the option of "First Serving" or of "Choosing Side". The "First Serving" shall "warm-up" first for 2 minutes followed by the other "Regu". Only 5 persons are allowed to move freely in the court with the official ball.

Position of players during service

At the start of play, the players of both "Regu" shall be in their respective courts in ready position. Serving "Back" player shall have one of his/her feet inside the serving circle. The other foot, shall be outside the circle to kick the service ball. Both of the "Inside" players of the serving side, shall be in their respective quarter circles. The opponent is free to be anywhere within its court.

Start of play and service

The side that chooses to start the game, shall start the first set. The winner of the first set shall change side and start the second set. The throw shall be executed as soon as the umpire calls the score. If any of the "Inside" player throws the ball before the umpire calls the score, it shall be a re-throw and a warning shall be given to the thrower. During the service, as soon as the ball is kicked by the server, all the players are allowed to move about in their respective court. The service is valid if the ball passes over the net, whether it touches the net or not, within the boundary of two boundary tapes and falls inside the opponent court. The execution of the serving by the "Back" player can be kicked in any manner, provided one of his/her feet shall be always touching the ground in the service circle.


The serving side during service The "Inside" player who is making service throws, plays about with the ball, (throwing up the ball, bumping, giving to other "Inside" player, etc.) after the call of score has been made by the umpire. The "Inside" player lifts his/her feet or steps on the line or crosses over or touches the net while throwing the ball. The "Back" player while kicking the service ball, the other foot does not touch the ground or steps on the service circle line. The "Back" player does not kick the ball on the service throw. The ball touches his/her own player before crossing to the opponent court. The ball goes over the net but falls outside the court. The ball does not cross to the opponent side. Receiving Side During Service To create distracting manner or noise or shout at respective opponent.For Both Sides During a Game Stepping on the centre line. Any player who touches the ball on the opponent court. Any part of the player's body crossing over the opponent's court whether above or under the net except during the follow through ball. Playing the ball more than 3 times in succession. The ball touches the arm. The ball rolls over the body. Stopping or holding the ball under the arm, between the legs or body. Any part of the body or player's outfits e.g. shoes, head band etc., touches the net or the post or the umpire chairs or falls into the opponents court. The ball touches the ceiling roof or the wall (any objects). Any player who delays the game unnecessarily

Change of Service

Change of service is given when any fault is made by the serving side or the receiving side kills the return.

Time Out

Each "Regu" can request for one time out of one minute by team manager or official coach per set and tie break set when the ball is not in play. Only 5 persons are allowed at the base line.

Scoring of Points

A point is given to serving "Regu" when its opponents have made a fault.

Temporary Suspension of Play

The umpire can suspend play temporarily in the event of obstructions, disturbances or any injury to player which need immediate treatment, for not more than 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes, the player is unable to continue, a substitution shall be made, provided substitution has not been made. In the course of such suspension, all players are not allowed to leave the court to receive drinks or any form of guidance.

Scoring System

The winning point for a set is a maximum of 15 points. To allow for 2 minutes rest at the end of the first and second set respectively. If each "Regu" wins a set, the game shall be decided in the tie break set of 6 points. Before the tie-break set take place, the umpire shall toss disc. and the side winning the toss shall have the serving first. The change of side shall occur in tie break set whereby one "Regu" has reached 3 points.


Every player shall abide by the rules of the game. Only the Captain of the "Regu" is allowed to approach the umpire during the game.


Players disobeying rules shall be penalised by the umpire

Showing dissent by words or action towards any officials, with regards to any decision and to any players or spectators. Using foul or abusive language to any officials, players or spectators. To take any improper step or action in order to influence any decision made by the officials. To leave the court without the permission of the umpire. To give the ball to his/her opponent with his/her feet. To commit ungentlemanly conduct. To disobey orders and rules of play.The umpire may use one of the following cards.Yellow Card - CautionRed Card - ExpulsionRed Card shall be given to the following offences committed "INTENTIONALLY"i) Persist in misconduct after receiving a caution.ii) Violent conduct (e.g. striking, kicking, spitting, etc.)iii) Using foul or abusive language.

Note: Any player who is shown a red card shall be sent off the court and disciplinary action shall be taken against him. The player concerned shall not be allowed to play in any game until sanction has been made

Misconduct of Team Officials

Disciplinary action shall be taken against Team Officials or his/her team for any misconduct or disturbances committed by the official or team during a tournament whether in or outside the court.


The game shall be managed by the following officials

1 Official referee 2 Umpires 6 Linesmen (4 Side Line and 2 Base Line)


In the event of any question or any matter arising of any point which is not expressly provided for in the rules of the game, the decision of the Official referee shall be final.


"Gasing" is a Malay word for top. Gasing or top spinning is a traditional game of the Malays. It was a popular pastime and recreation among children and adults alike who lived in kampongs.

In Singapore, however, its popularity declined as more and more people moved to public flats. In an effort to revive and promote the games, gasing enthusiasts established the Gasing Federation in Jul 1979.

Basically, there are two types of gasing. One is ornamental - strictly for display purposes and the other is for playing. There are five different shapes of tops - plate-shaped, heart-shaped, flat-top, egg-shaped and 'berembang'-shaped. 'Berembang' is the fruit of a seaside tree.

Method of Play:

Number of Participants: The number is not fixed. It can be played in teams or individually.

Equipment: Wooden tops and strings

Aim: To keep the top spinning for as long as possible within a specified area.

For individual play:A circle is drawn depicting the area in which the top must spin.A string is tightly wound clockwise round the base of the top, beginning from the nail.The player clasps the top in his hand, gripping the loose end of the string between the fingers.He throws the top into the circle and swings the string backwards to give the top a spinning effect.If the top spins out of the circle, the player loses the game.The one whose top outspins the rest wins the game

For team play:Circles are drawn for each team.Players from each team spin their tops into the respective circles at the same time.When the top stops or spins out of the circle, the next member of the team should quickly throw in his top.The team whose last top outspins the rest wins the game.


"Capteh" is patois for shuttlecock. Colourful feathers are attached to a rubber or plastic base. The idea of the game is to keep the shuttlecock airborne for as long as possible by kicking it. The winner is the player who manages the most number of kicks. Another version is on an agreed target of kicks (e.g. 100). The winner is the first one who achieves this target.

Method of play

The player starts by kicking the capteh (usually with the in-step), either with one leg or alternating with both legs.He continues to count each kick until he misses. When he misses, he stops playing and surrenders his turn to the next player, and waits for his turn to come again.The next player starts kicking and counting until he misses. The game continues until either all the players have completed an agreed number of turns, or one player has reached the targeted number of kicks (e.g. 100 kicks). The player who has the most number of kicks, or who reaches 100 kicks first, wins.In team play, a circle is drawn for each team. A player steps in and starts kicking the capteh until he misses.The next player on the team takes over. This continues until all the team members have had their turns.The team which scores the most number of kicks after all the players have had their turns, wins the game.

=Congkak= Congkak is a game for two players using a board which has several storehouses. The aim of the game is to gather as many shells into the storehouses on the player's side. Normally, either cowrie shells or tamarind seeds are used.

Method of Play:

The board has two rows of seven cups ('houses') on each side and a larger compartment ('storehouse') at each end. Players sit facing each other. Before the game starts, the 'houses' (1-14) are filled with seven shells each, while the 'storehouses' (A & B) are left empty. Both players begin simultaneously by scooping up all the shells in any house on their side. Each drops a shell into the next 'house' and continues clockwise depositing one shell into every house thereafter. A player drops a shell into his 'storehouse' each time he passes it but does not deposit any into his opponent's 'storehouse'.

How the game continues, depends on where the last shell of each scoop is deposited. IF THE SHELL DROPS INTO THE PLAYER'S OWN 'STOREHOUSE':The player scoops up the shells from any of his 'houses' and distributes them in the cups ('houses') round the board but not in his opponents's 'storehouse'. IF THE SHELL DROPS INTO A 'HOUSE' (on either side of the board) CONTAINING SHELLS:The player scoops up all the shells in that 'house' and continues distributing them as described above. IF THE SHELL DROPS INTO THE PLAYER'S 'HOUSE' WHICH IS WITHOUT SHELLS:The player is entitled to collect the shells in his opponent's 'house' directly opposite his own. These shells collected from his opponent's house together with his last shell are deposited in his own 'storehouse'. If the opponent's 'house' opposite his own is empty, he deposits only his last shell in his own 'storehouse'. He forfeits his turn and stops playing. It is the opponent's turn now to distribute the shells. IF THE SHELL DROPS INTO AN EMPTY 'HOUSE' BELONGING TO THE OPPONENT:The player forfeits his turn and stops playing. He also forfeits his shell and leaves it in the opponent's 'house'. It is the opponent's turn now to distribute the shells.

The first round ends when a player has no more shells on his side. Play resumes in the second round with players redistributing shells from their own 'storehouse' to their own 'houses'. Beginning from left to right, seven shells are placed in each 'house'. If a player does not have sufficient shells to fill his own 'houses', the remaining cups are left empty and are considered 'burnt'. The leftover shells are deposited into his own 'storehouse.' The opponent deposits excess shells he has won into his own 'storehouse'. The loser gets to start the second round. Play is continued as before but players will bypass 'burnt houses' ie. no shells are to be dropped into these houses. If a shell is accidentally dropped into a 'burnt house', it is confiscated and stored in the opponent's 'storehouse'. Play continues until one player loses all his 'houses' or concedes defeat.

Five Stones

Of ancient origin, the game of Five Stones (also known as Knucklebones) is played with five small triangular cloth bags filled with seeds, rice or sand. Two or more players can play. The aim is to score as many points as possible. A point is scored when a player completes the eight steps in throwing and catching 'five' stones.

Method of Play:

*Players determine the order of play.
*Each takes turn to play the game.
*Playing steps:
**A player begins by throwing all five stones on the ground. He throws a stone in the air and picks up a stone and then catches the first stone with the same hand. He continues picking up each stone in this manner till all five are in his hand.
**Repeat (3a) but the player picks up 2 stones each time.
**Repeat (3a) but the player picks up 3 stones at the first time and one stone the second time or vice versa.
**Repeat (3a) but the player sweeps up all 4 stones.
**The player throws one stone in the air, places the other four on the ground and catches the falling stone before it lands. Throws the stone up again and sweeps up the others on the ground, and catches the stone.
**He throws all stones on the ground and picks up two. Throws one stone in the air and exchanges the other with one on the ground (note that for this action, a player uses only one hand). He continues to do this to the remaining stones on the ground.
**After the exchange is completed, the two stones held in one hand are thrown up. The player picks up a stone with the same hand and catches the two falling stones separately into each hand. He continues to do this till there are three stones in one hand and two stones in the other. The remaining two stones are then thrown up and caught separately into each hand again. **He throws the last stone up and catches it with the other hand.
**The player throws all five stones on the ground. The opponent selects the stone to be thrown. **The player throws the selected stone and sweeps up the others on the ground then catches the falling stone. When the eight steps are completed, the player scores a point and starts from paragraph (3a) again.
*The player stops playing when
**The stone, which is thrown in the air, is not caught in time.
**The player touches or moves stones apart from those he has picked up.
*When it comes to his turn again, he begins from the step where the mistake was made.
*The winner is the one who completes the set of eight steps the most number of times.

External links

* [ Official Website]


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