A little less than a year ago I wrote a blog post on my observations of sport “culture” and development in Central America (Made in Central America – Sport as a universal language). Now, a year after, I’m bringing you fresh experience from my recent trip to Malaysia and some of the sport specialties from this country.
Malaysia is well developed country – more than I expected, actually -, especially Kuala Lumpur (KL), the capital. Smaller cities are still far behind from KL, what I take as normal. However, even in the smaller towns the sports “spirit” is alive. Street vendors, children, men and women simply like to wear sport shirts – especially football Premier League clubs shirts!
If I had to choose the most popular one (and the criteria is quantity of the shirts I saw on the streets), I’d say: Manchester United is number one, with Liverpool and Chelsea following. Reason for massive presence of Premier League is also ESPN covering majority of matches week by week and the fact Malaysia used to be English colony.
Check out the photos below what’s hot and popular and what’s the integration of sport in everyday’s life of Malaysians?
The dominance of Manchester United is obvious: you can even find a Man Utd deodorant body spray in supermarket (pictured below).
À la Liverpool street vendor (below) in KL might sell you some of his goods.
Or, you can meet Chelsea fan (below) in Sandakan (Borneo), waiting at the bus terminal.
However, national sport in Malaysia is sepak takraw: “kick volleyball“, which differs from volleyball in its use of a rattan ball (below) and only allowing players to use their feet, knee, chest and head to touch the ball.
Although sepak takraw is a national sport, I was fascinated when I saw some of the football pitches where local people spend lots of their (free) time. You can find those football fields everywhere, even in the middle of the jungle (below). “Hey, you really don’t need much to make your own pitch,” locals say.
And there’s even more fascinating thing: which boots the locals use to play football? Kampung Adidas – cheap black rubber shoes “Made in Malaysia”. They are waterproof, and thus ideal for trekking in tropical weather. Kampung Adidas (eng: Village Adidas) are also commonly used by villagers to play football (they even look like real Adidas‘ football boots model World Cup or Copa Mundial). Price? Around 2 or 3 euros (€)!
To conclude my trip in few words. Like in other parts of the world, also Malaysians love sport: to watch it (Premier League), play it professionally (sepak takraw) or just practice it for fun (football). What can we learn from them? Football pitches in the middle of nothing or Kampung Adidas are enough to “Show Your Potential“; the slogan Fieldoo stands for!