If there’s one thing us Malaysians love more than milo, gambling and beaches, its our sports.
It would make sense that the popular sports in Malaysia are as diverse as our culturally-mixed population.
If you ask around “what are the popular sports in Malaysia?”, they’ll all 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!
Here’s the Top 5 Popular Sports in Malaysia Every Malaysian Loves
Football is a very popular sport, not just in Malaysia but in almost all the countries in the world. Millions celebrate The World Cup, an International football tournament, every 4 years. It’s one of the biggest sports events worldwide, beating every other sport like basketball or ice skating.
Just last year 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.
We Malaysians are obsessed with football! And although our previous British occupants introduced the sport to us, we’ve learned to love it all the same. Nowadays, we have our own national football league in the same way that Spain has La Liga.
There’s also been a trend in football recently. They’re getting other races from Chinese and Indian communities to join in playing the sport again. 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.
Although Malaysia’s Football Team seems to be suffering internationally, Badminton is doing the opposite and is actually thriving. Even Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that badminton is now the country’s #1 sport.
It’s difficult when competition for International football is very high. On the other hand, we’ve been greatly improving our badminton skills! Badminton legends like Datuk Lee Chong Wei is as beloved as the sport itself. He’s one of the figureheads that helped solidify Malaysia’s love for badminton as a national sport.
You could argue that our players’ strength in the sport could be the reason why we love it so much. We often find that main competition comes from other neighboring Asian countries like Indonesia, China and South Korea. This gives a more local feel that isn’t found in football.
3. Sepak Takraw
Officially Malaysia’s national sport, Sepak Takraw is not just played in Malaysia. Other neighboring Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and the Philippines have their own version of Sepak Takraw. It comes off as more like 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.
Speaking 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.
Sepak 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. Jaring, on the other hand, is the more modern version of Sepak Takraw, where players pass the ball to each other over a high net.
To 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.
Historically, Rugby as a sport originated from football. Back in the early days when the Englishmen were just starting to formulate 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.
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.
A 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.
In fact, the national teams’ players are extremely committed to Hoki. 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’?
Bet on Popular Sports in Malaysia
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.
Now, gambling has evolved from traditional land-based practices to online platforms on the internet. Top online casinos in Malaysia such as EMPIRE777 provide quality casino games and the most attractive bonuses. All you have to do is SIGN UP and you’ll get the chance to win big prizes!
Although gambling laws remain to be a political issue in Malaysia, the government can’t really stop the sports betting that’s been going on. It will be difficult since us Malaysians love our sports and our betting. Us Malaysians don’t need to worry either. Many trusted online casinos will continue providing safe and legal ways to do sports betting.