Macau, also known as the Las Vegas of the East, has come a long way since its time as a Portuguese colony. While one gets glimpses of Chinese and Portuguese influence in the region’s outlook and architecture, the society, in general, has come out of the colonists’ shadows and adapted to modern practices.
While it is mainly known for its resorts and casinos, sport is an integral part of the culture in Macau. The popularity of modern and traditional sports in the region is a reflection of how its residents have embraced contemporary world practices and influence.
Be it recreation or competition, Macau residents indulge in a wide variety of sports. Various contests and local leagues are organised every year by various clubs and sports associations. The most popular sports include football, basketball, jogging, volleyball, dragon boat racing, badminton, tennis, rugby, etc.
Since Macau has a small population, the notion of having professional leagues is not practical, and local sports are mostly amateur. It is also why government bodies manage most clubs or associations.
Despite the limitations, Macau residents are passionate about sports and have varying preferences. This article offers an overview of some of the most popular sports in Macau.
Football in Macau
Football is the most popular sport in Macau. Despite the region’s lack of standard-sized football pitches, the people of Macau highly appreciate the sport. Apart from playing the standard game with an 11-a-side format, the locals also play a type of football whereby the pitch is smaller, and the football size is also small. Since the standard-sized football pitches are very few, smaller artificial pitches are used as an alternative.
The Macau Football Association, founded in 1939, is one of the smallest member associations of FIFA. The region’s football team has been competing with other teams since 1931, even before the establishment of a formal regulating body.
In 1937, the Hong Kong-Macau Interport Tournament was launched. The longstanding competition comprises a series of matches between Hong Kong and Macau. With a few exceptions, the competition has been held every year.
Besides the national team, there are various local football teams in Macau that have been playing for ages. One of the most prominent clubs is Benfica, which was founded in the 1950s. It was suspended for a few years in 1990 but was relaunched in 2008, becoming one of the strongest teams in the region.
Basketball in Macau
Basketball is also widely popular in Macau. The city has outdoor and indoor basketball courts that are widely available to the public. Amateur basketball leagues are organised annually, and players with good performance are selected for the SAR Team.
The national basketball team became a member of FIBA in 1979 and is governed by the Macau-China Basketball Association. The team has not qualified for any FIBA championship but has played twice in the FIBA Asian Championship.
Jogging and running
Physical fitness is an important concern for Macau residents, which is why jogging and running are popular activities in the city. The locals, particularly the middle-aged and elderly residents, can be found jogging in the early morning or evening. Local jogging competitions are also a popular trend in Macau.
If you happen to visit Guia Hill during these times, you will see the footpaths brimming with locals jogging or running. The Macau Sports Board has taken initiatives to promote the activity, and since 2007 it has actively made efforts to open tracks and sports venues for the public. So people living far from Guia Hill can take advantage of these facilities and have easy access to safe jogging tracks.
Dragon Boat Racing in Macau
Dragon boat racing has a longstanding history in Macau that goes back almost a century. In 1979, the Macau Sports Bureau introduced a competition, the Dragon Boat Festival, that later became a yearly event. It is an international contest that is held during the Duanwu Festival, the dragon boat festival in China.
Paddlers between the ages of 20 and 40 usually participate in the contest, but some teams also have players as young as sixteen or seventeen.
Rugby in Macau
Last but not least, we have rugby on the list. Macau’s national rugby team is a member of the International Rugby Board, but it has yet to play in a World Cup tournament. Besides the national team, Macau also has a rugby club that participates in various contests. Rugby tournaments are a popular activity among the locals.
The residents are also fond of beach rugby and play casual games amongst each other as a recreational activity.