Laos, the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, is a beautiful country with rich and preserved cultural traditions. Like its counterparts in the region, while the country has adapted to modernism, it has not yet let go of its traditions handed down from generations.
The same is the case with sports. The prevalent sports in the country seem to be tied to its traditional values and have strong historic or cultural significance. This certainly leads one to wonder which sports are more popular in Laos. Here are in an insight into the five most popular sports in Laos.
Sepak Takraw In Laos
The first sport on our list is Sepak Takraw. Also known as Kataw among the masses in Laos, it is the country’s national sport, and like its counterparts in Southeast Asia, it is commonly played throughout Laos.
While the name may sound confusing, Sepak Takraw is a very simple game in reality and is a mix of soccer and volleyball, which is why it is also called kick volley ball. Like volleyball, you need a net and a ball to play and a total of 4 to 8 players. Usually, three players from each side play at a time. The ball used for playing Sepak Takraw is made of wicker or plastic. It is easy to toss around and keep afloat as it is soft and lightweight.
Players can use all body surfaces to pass the ball except for the arms and hands. Players on one team can perform up to three passes among each other at the most before sending it to the opponent’s court. Like other net and ball games, if the other team cannot send the ball back to the first team, the first team scores a point. A round culminates if any one of the teams scores 21 points and the team that wins 2 innings or rounds is the match winner.
Football In Laos
Football is one of the most popular sports in Laos. The Lao Football Federation was formed in 1951 and is the governing body of football in the country. The federation manages the country’s national team and organises various national tournaments like the Lao League 1 and 2 matches and the FF Cup.
Laos has been a part of FIFA since 1952 and affiliated with the AFC since 1968.
Petanque In Laos
Petanque is the national game of Laos. The name of the game comes from Petanca, a word from Occitan. It generally means planted feet. Petanque is originally a French game in which a hollow metal ball is thrown or rolled around by the players. The goal is to get it as close as possible to another smaller wooden ball called a jack.
Players must stay inside a circle while their feet are planted on the ground, and the team with the nearest pitch wins the match.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what kind of surface is required for the game. It can be played on hard ground, softer surfaces, or even gravel, which is why Petanque is so commonly played in Laos in parks and streets.
Over the years, Petanque has become so commonly spread that the locals perceive it as a part of their traditions. Whether young or old, Laotians love to play Petanque and consider it a good way of spending time with friends or family.
Muay Laos In Laos
Like Thailand, Muay Laos, or traditional Laos, boxing has been played in the country for a long time. It is considered a skill the locals have learned from their ancestors and has traces of cultural influences in the game format as well.
Before the game begins, the boxers kneel down to pay their respect to their respective Masters and pray. A small group of musicians plays traditional music when the game continues.
Muay Laos is considered one of the most lethal games and is more violent than its counterparts, like French or English boxing.
Cock Fighting In Laos
Like rural areas in South Asia, including Pakistan and India, cock fighting is quite popular in Laos as well. You may get to see it being played more commonly in the northern part of the country, including Nong Khiaw and Luang Prabang.
Although cock fighting was banned in the 90s due to the nature of the game and concerns over animal cruelty, the ban mostly exists in theory only, and locals still indulge in the sport, particularly on the weekends and religious holidays. Bets are also placed on these games, despite gambling being banned in Laos.