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Updated: 18/05/2006

History of Football - Asia

Tsu Chu
The earliest form of football, with creditable historical evidence, is Tsu Chu. It was mentioned in a military manual of the Han Dynasty in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries BC. It appears to be kicking a ball through an opening 30-40 cm in width in a piece of silk cloth. The ball was made of leather filled with feathers and hair. The game was often played to celebrate the Emperor's Birthday. The penalty for loosing was death.

The stamp at right (Sc 2073, SG 3476) is one of an issue of China on the 20th December 1986. The series was "Sport in Ancient China". The stamp below is one of the Sharjah series (SG 244) and depicts the net and players in approximately 175 BC.

Kemari was played 500-600 years latter in Japan. This is a  game where players pass the ball to each other without it touching the ground around a square. It is similar to a soccer drill of today and indeed Kemari is still played in Japan.

Sepak Raga
It was the name of an ancient game played in the Malay states and probably in neighbouring countries as well. Raga was the rattan ball used in the game (a woven cane ball). 

It involved the players standing in a circle keeping the ball in the air, not just with their feet but also with various other parts of the body, all except the hands. It was similar to Japanese Kemari. It was the precursor of Sepak Takraw which uses a badminton net for the ball to be kicked over.