While I was in Bagan they were holding a football tournament, the Tike Su Cup, featuring local teams. These weren’t conventional football (soccer) matches, however, but “mini-matches”. Each team was only allowed three players on the small pitch, and had two substitute players on the sidelines. The goals were tiny ones (literally “narrow goal” in Burmese), making it very difficult for the players to score goals. Most kicks were either too wide or too high. When it came time for free kicks, the smart players gently tapped the ball, making it sure it never left the ground, but rolled straight towards the untended goal.
I went with my friends from New Bagan, Tun Tun and Zin Zin, to see the semi-finals one afternoon and the final the following day. The matches were held in what basically looked like a vacant dirt lot, a couple of blocks off the main road in New Bagan, and just down the street from the high school. Tun Tun was still licking his wounds from his own team’s defeat in the opening round earlier in the week, but he was excited about seeing his friends on the Yadanarbon team play a match.
Each late afternoon match drew a vocal crowd of supporters. The crowd, as expected, was comprised mostly of males, but a considerable number of young ladies were also present. Some of the smaller and shorter kids in the crowd found it hard to see the action, so they found better viewing spots … in the nearby trees! The atmosphere was very festive and pleasant, and absolutely no traces of hooliganism. There’s not a whole lot to do in New Bagan, so this event was a real treat for everyone. Even the losing team in the finals didn’t appear too upset with their defeat. Maybe that’s because once the teams got to the semi-finals they were all assured of a cash prize.