What’s one thing Malaysians love more than milo, gambling and beaches? Obviously the answer is Sports in Malaysia.
And if you ask around “what are the popular sports in Malaysia?”, everyone will have different answers. Some would say the national sport, Sepak Takraw, while others would say the more globally-recognized sports like Football or Badminton.
They say that knowing a country’s favorite past time and activities reveals what kind of a country it really is. So we made a list of what we think are the most beloved sports in Malaysia!
Top 5 Popular Sports in Malaysia Every Malaysian Loves
Football is a very popular sport, not just in Malaysia but the whole world! Millions celebrate The World Cup every 4 years and Malaysians always wonder when we’ll make it into the International Tournament. It’s one of the biggest sports in the world, after all, beating basketball or even ice skating.
In 2018, almost half the world’s population tuned in to watch the World Cup held in Russia. It was unfortunate that Malaysia’s National Football Team didn’t qualify. Still, many Malaysians enjoyed watching their favorite International players dominate the playing field.
Neymar is one of the most popular football players in the world right now.
Although Malaysia isn’t so lucky in the International field, there’s still our own national football league.
Football is for everyone! That’s what we Malaysians would like to say. We want to bring back the glory days of Malaysian football where every race took part in the beautiful game.
Let’s admit it, Malaysia’s Football Team is having a hard time breaking into the International league.
But Badminton, on the other hand, is actually thriving! Even Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that badminton is now the #1 Malaysia Sport.
Badminton legends like Datuk Lee Chong Wei is as beloved as the sport itself. He’s one of th Sports Icons that helped badminton become one of Malaysia’s National Sports (unofficially).
Plus, there’s more familiarity to Badminton than Football since our main competition comes from our Asian neighbors like Indonesia, China and South Korea.This gives a more local feel that isn’t found in football.
3. Sepak TakrawSepak Takraw is the Official National Sport in Malaysia. But it’s origins can be found from all over Southeast Asia, like Thailand and the Philippines. Sepak Takraw comes off as a variation of the Western Sport Volleyball, where instead of using hands, Sepak Takraw players can use any part of their bodies except for their lower arms and said hands. This makes for a cool-looking athletic sport that’s a bit more on the acrobatic side. You’ll often see players diving to catch and jumping to hit the fast rattan ball.
Sepak Takraw in Action
Sepak Takraw BallSpeaking of the ball, it’s one of the most defining aspects of the game. A Sepak Takraw ball is made of weaved strips of buluh or bamboo. It’s light and bouncy, the perfect kind of ball for a game where passing the ball and keeping it afloat is its whole point.
2 Kinds of Sepak TakrawSepak Takraw also has two variations, the Bulatan and the Jaring. For the Bulatan, players gather around in a circle and must pass the ball to each other, keeping the ball in the air as much as possible. Also known as Sepak Raga Bulatan, this is the original version of the beloved national sport.
Bulatan – Sepak TakrawJaring, on the other hand, is the more modern version of Sepak Takraw, where players pass the ball to each other over a high net.
Jaring – Sepak TakrawTo us Malaysians, Sepak Takraw is more than just a sport. It’s a celebration of culture, a tradition that gives light to the country’s rich history.
4. RugbyHistorically, Rugby as a sport originated from football. Back in the early days when the Englishmen were just starting to make the standard rules for football, others argued that two rules should be removed from the game entirely. The first is that running with the ball in hand should be allowed. The second is that hacking or kicking an opponent in the legs to topple the player who has the ball should also be allowed. When they proposed that these two rules be removed, the others broke from the association entirely and created their own sport: rugby! And thus one of the popular sports in Malaysia was born.
Malaysia Rugby Team vs. Singapore
In Malaysia, the sport Rugby is governed by the Malaysian Rugby Union or Kesatuan Ragbi Malaysia.
The sport is also getting more popular over the years thanks to countless efforts like the Get Into Rugby programme (GIR).
GIR was initiated by the formal general manager of the Malaysia Rugby Union, Mohd Mazuri, back in 2014.
Get into Rugby has been getting Malaysians into rugby, especially the youth from the countryside. In Malaysia, a sport is not just a sport–it’s a way to unite people together despite their differences in culture and circumstance. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
5. HokiA lot of Malaysians love to watch Hoki or (more popularly known as) Field Hockey. In fact, Malaysia is one of the founding members of the Asian Hockey Federation. Malaysia has its own National Hockey Team and even has their own field hockey league competition for clubs called the Malaysia Hockey League or MHL. Malaysians are actually good at playing this sport, seeing as the men’s hockey team is ranked 13th in the world and 3rd in Asia. The women’s team, on the other hand, is ranked 22 in the world and 5th in Asia.
Austria vs. Malaysia: Men’s FIH Series Finals Highlights
They still manage to play official games despite having day jobs as Policemen, Teachers and more.
This is a small sacrifice to pay since these players get to play internationally, representing Malaysia in the grand sport of field hockey.
We’re not one to lose either. In 1975, Malaysia was actually the first country to host the Hockey World Cup, ranking 4th worldwide. It’s our highest ranking so far.
Oh, and did I mention that our men’s team is nicknamed ‘Speedy Tigers’?
Since it’s pretty evident that a lot of Malaysians love sports, it’s no mystery that we also love sports betting.
Although gambling is prohibited, it can’t be denied that many Malaysians still love betting. Other races like Chinese and Indian communities love to bet and gamble as a way of socializing with one another. That’s why horse-race betting and sports betting has become popular over the years.