What team sport requires perfect timing, co-ordination and cohesion but can still be a lot of fun to play even if players fall short on some of the essentials? The answer in this instance is: volleyball. The game has become popular thanks to the heroics of the Chinese national women's team which inspired a whole generation of new players to take to the court. It is difficult to master but once played, whether on the beach or on a proper court, youngsters can see the importance of teamwork and co-ordination which are the hallmarks of the game. In 1895 in Holyoke, Massachusetts, William G Morgan, director of physical education at the YMCA, created the sport. The game was originally called 'Mintonette' because most of its characteristics were inspired by tennis and handball. There were basic rules and a net was placed 1.95 metres above the ground. The game's first public demonstration was in 1896 and the name was changed to volleyball because the main objective of the game was to keep the ball airborne back and forth over the net. The game reached Asia in 1908 and in 1964 made its Olympic debut in Tokyo with 10 men's teams and six women's teams competing. The women's competition was won by hosts Japan. There are now five 'super-powers' in the women's game which, remarkably, has become more popular than the men's. China, Russia, the United States, Cuba and Brazil are evenly balanced although Cuba are now considered the best women's team in the world. Height is an important advantage for players but not essential. With the net at 1.95-metres, it would be a little easier if a player was taller, particularly when it came to spiking! Looking at the game being played at its highest level, one appreciates the beauty of it all as players expertly block, set and spike (smash) the ball. Chinese head coach Lang Ping, who was dubbed 'the hammer' in the early 1980s because of her terrific spikes and who led China to the gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, probably described the game best. 'When played properly, it can be a sight to behold because all the players play like a well-oiled machine where each player knows their roles so well. See how the players take turns blocking, setting the ball and attacking. It's an amazing game,' she said. Lang has been in charge of the Chinese national team for just over two years. She has seen her team rise from the ashes where China finished a pitiful seventh at the Barcelona Olympics to win the silver medal in Atlanta last month. The height of the players is another amazing aspect of volleyball. Watching the sport on television can be deceptive. Almost all the players are at least six feet tall - and they are women! Lang said: 'Height is a crucial factor when playing the game properly. All our team members are at least 1.8-metres tall and our shortest members are usually the younger ones who are coming up and still growing. 'It would be an advantage to be tall especially when it comes to blocking and spiking. But height is not the most important factor. The team has to get together and play well without making any mistakes. This can only be achieved through hours of practice.' Take a look at the Chinese national team and you might be amazed that more than half the team are 'six-footers' with the tallest member Wang Yi, at 1.89-metres. The team's highly capable skipper Lai Yawen is close by at 1.87-metres. 'Tactics are also extremely important because a team is trying to win points all the time. There are six players and each player has a specific role to play whether in attack or defence,' said Lang. The game has massive appeal and has become so advanced now that television coverage includes statistics on spikes, digs and blocks. Television coverage of the World Volleyball Grand Prix attracted massive audiences world wide. Spectators also had a chance to see some of the world's top women players in action recently at the Wing Wah Mooncake Cup, the Hong Kong leg of the women's US$1.5 million (HK$11.5 million) Grand Prix series.