Top 5 popular sports in Malaysia: Football, Hockey, Rugby & more

Wondering which are the popular sports in Malaysia? We have gathered top 5 most popular sports in Malaysia with Football at the No 1 position. Discover more!

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5 most popular sports in Malaysia

Sports are one of the pleasant things that Malaysians enjoy doing in addition to gambling and going to the beach. Malaysians are encouraged to participate in sports and watch sporting events from an early age.


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If you ask people, “Which are the most popular sports in Malaysia?” you’ll get a variety of responses. Some would say Sepak Takraw, the national sport, but others would say football or badminton, which are more widely recognized sports. To make it easier for you, we have covered the top 5 most popular sports in Malaysia.

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1. Football

Bola Sepak” is the Malay word for football, where ‘bola’ means ‘ball,’ and ‘sepak’ means ‘kick‘. Football is a hugely popular sport all across the world, not just in Malaysia. Every 4 years, millions of people throughout the world enjoy the World Cup, and Malaysians always wonder when will they be able to compete in it.

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  • In 2018, nearly half of the world’s population tuned in to witness Russia host the World Cup.
  • The Malaysian football squad is known as Harimau Malaya (Malayan Tigers), and despite the fact that they have never qualified for the World Cup, they do well when competing against nearby countries.
  • This is also why football supporters never lost hope in them, and many relished the opportunity to watch their favorite stars dominate the field.

2. Badminton

Let’s accept it, Malaysia’s football team is struggling to make the international league. Badminton (also known as badminton in Malay) on the other hand, is a growing sport! It is currently the most popular sport in Malaysia, according to Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

  • w88-popular sports in malaysia-02Legendary badminton players such as Datuk Lee Chong Wei are as popular as the sport itself.
  • He is one of the Sports Icons who helped badminton become a national sport in Malaysia.
  • Malaysia has attempted to send Badminton players to the Olympics since the Sidek Brothers earned Malaysia’s first Olympic medals in the 1992 Summer Olympics.
  • Malaysia has won 13 Olympic medals thus far, 9 of which have come in badminton.

3. Sepak takraw

Sepak Takraw, or kick volley, is considered Malaysia’s official national sport. However, it also has a Malay name Sepak Raga, ‘raga‘ can be interpreted as ‘basket,’ as the original basket is made of rattan, which is also the same material used for the traditional ball for Sepak Takraw, which many local youngsters still use.

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Except for a “no-hands” rule, the sport is essentially identical to volleyball. This means that the participants can use any part of their body except their hands and arms. This sport employs more aerobics than western volleyball since it places a greater emphasis on body and leg motions.

Sepak Takraw can be played in 2 styles
1. Bulatan – In English, the word Bulatan means ‘circle.’

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This is the original or conventional version of the game. The aim is to form a circle and pass the rattan ball around without using your hands or dropping the ball.

2. Jaring – Jaring is an English word that means ‘net‘.

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Similar to volleyball, this is the current version of the sport, in which players pass the ball over the net. This Malaysian sport is also extremely popular in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines.

Unfortunately, Sepak Takraw is not included in the Olympics. Sepak Takraw is more than a sport to Malaysians. It’s a cultural celebration, a custom that illuminates the country’s rich heritage.

4. Rugby

Rugby is a sport that has its roots in football. Date back to the time when Englishmen were starting to develop the standard football rules, few claimed that 2 rules should be deleted from the game completely. Below are those 2 rules.

  1. The first is that running while holding the ball should be permitted.
  2. The second point is that kicking or hacking an opponent in the legs to knock down the ball bearer should be permitted.

When they requested that these 2 regulations be abolished, the rest of the association left and formed their own sport: rugby! As a result, one of Malaysia’s most popular sports was born.

  • w88-popular sports in malaysia-06The Malaysian Rugby Union, or Kesatuan Ragbi Malaysia, governs the sport of rugby in Malaysia.
  • The sport has also grown in popularity over time, courtesy of numerous initiatives such as the Get Into Rugby (GIR) program.
  • GIR was founded in 2014 by Mohd Mazuri, the Malaysia Rugby Union’s formal general manager.
  • Malaysians, particularly those from the countryside, have been drawn to rugby via Get into Rugby.
  • A sport in Malaysia is more than just a sport–it’s a method to bring people together despite their cultural and economic divides.

5. Hoki

Many Malaysians like watching Hoki. It is also commonly known as Field Hockey. Malaysia is, in reality, one of the originating members Asian Hockey Federation. Malaysia has its own National Hockey Team, as well as a field hockey league competition for clubs known as the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

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  •  Malaysians are actually talented at hockey, as evidenced by the fact that the men’s team known as Speedy Tigers is ranked 13th in the world and 3rd in Asia.
  • On the other hand, the women’s team is ranked 22nd in the world and 5th in Asia.
  • Malaysia was the 1st country to hold the Hockey Globe Cup in 1975, and it currently ranks 4th in the world which is the highest position to date.

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