Like many of their Asian counterparts, Malaysians are fond of traditional and western sports. The locals love sports in general and like to play different sports, including tennis, field hockey, horse riding, martial arts, bowling, badminton, squash, skateboarding, etc.
Spectators and participatory sports are equally popular in the country and one of the major factors that bring people together. While many forms of sports are prevalent in the country, some are more popular than others. Here is a brief account of some of the most popular sports in Malaysia.
Football In Malaysia
Football is the most popular sport in the world, and Malaysia is no exception. Although the country has not yet made it to the World Cup tournament, the locals love to play it and watch their favourite teams compete against each other.
The main league in Malaysia is the Malaysia Super League, loved by residents and visitors to Malaysia plus followers around the world.
The Malaysian national football team made their international win in 2010 in the AFF Suzuki Cup. The country also exhibited outstanding performance in the Southeast Asian Games in 2009 and 2011 and won the gold medal. As of June 2022, Malaysia ranks 147 on the FIFA rankings.
The most legendary Malaysian footballer to date is Datuk Mokhtar Dahari, called the Supermokh. He played for the team in the 1970s and was one of the most prominent players of that time. He played in around 167 games and helped his team score 125 goals.
Badminton In Malaysia
Badminton is quite popular throughout Asia, and the region has produced some of the best players in the world. The sport is also thriving in Malaysia. While football may be the most popular sport in Malaysia, badminton is way up there too. While the country has yet to make a mark in football internationally, it has certainly proved its mettle in badminton.
Other forms of racquet sports are also quite popular in Malaysia, but badminton leads by quite a margin, and the country is doing exceptionally well in this regard. The Malaysian badminton team won three bronze and six silver medals at the Olympics.
Some of the most competent Malaysian players include Tan Wee Kiong, Lee Chong Wei, and Chan Peng Soon. They have helped increase the sport’s popularity in the country and earned Malaysia recognition in the global badminton landscape.
Sepak Takraw In Malaysia
The third sport on our list is Malaysia’s national sport, Sepak Takraw. Also called, kick volleyball, Sepak Takraw is quite popular in Southeast Asia and is also a part of the Southeast Asian Games.
The game is played on a court similar to a badminton court with a net. It is played between two teams having 2 to 4 players. The ball used in the game is made of rattan or synthetic plastic.
Instead of their arms, players use their heads, chest, shoulder, knees, and foot to touch the ball. Sepak Tekraw is called a mix of volleyball and football as it entails the use of a net similar to volleyball, while the players use their foott which make it similar to football. The ball is bouncy and soft and is easy to pass around and keep afloat.
There are two variations of Sepak Takraw played in Malaysia. The first variant is Bulatan, which is the original version of Sepak Takraw. In this type of game, players gather in a circle and pass the ball to each other. The aim is to keep the ball afloat as much as possible. The other variant is Jaring, in which a net is used, and players pass the ball to each other over the net. It is the modern version of Sepak Takraw.
Rugby In Malaysia
Another sport of western origin that has found its way to Malaysia and become highly popular is rugby. The Malaysian Rugby Union, or Kesatuan Ragbi Malaysia, is the governing body for rugby in Malaysia.
Mohid Mazuri, the formal general manager of the Malaysian Rugby Union, launched the GIR (Get in Rugby) programme in 2014. The programme aims to promote rugby in the country, particularly the youngsters in rural areas. Thanks to the program and such initiatives, rugby is rapidly gaining popularity in Malaysia.
Last but not least, we have field hockey, popularly known as Hoki in Malaysia. Malaysia is one of the founding members of the Asian Hockey Federation and has hence helped promote the sport in the region.
The country not only has its own national hockey team, but also has the Malaysia Hockey League, the country’s hockey league competition for the clubs. The national hockey team ranks third in Asia and 13th in the world.