Asia is a pretty big continent. Actually, it is the biggest and the most populated continent of the world. So, it’s only natural that the people living here to be fans of a lot of different sports. Both team sports and individual ones are very popular in Asia.
European football (or soccer) became extremely popular in almost all Asian countries, during the last few decades. This team sport, born in Great Britain, literally conquered the world. Countries like South Korea, Japan and China developed a real national obsession about soccer. Soccer is a game played by two teams of eleven players each, on a large, rectangular field, about 120 meters long and 90 meters wide. One game lasts 90 minutes and is divided in two 45 minutes rounds. The whole purpose of the game is to put the ball inside the other’s team goal. A goalkeeper guards the goal. The team that scores more wins the game. Unlike American football, European football (or soccer) restricts a lot physical contacts between players. It’s based more on a good control of the ball by the players, being a team sport where serious injuries are very rare. This is why soccer also becomes widely popular among women too.
Cricket, another team sport brought to Asia by the British, is very popular and loved in a lot of countries, like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan or Sri Lanka. Cricket is also played by two teams or 11 players, but on an oval field, with a diameter of about 200 meters. In the center of that field is the pitch, where two batsmen stand, waiting for a ball to be delivered by the bowler. If the batsman successfully fits the ball and then he runs to the other end of the pitch, it means that he scored points for his team. The rules of cricket are really complex and there is more than one way for playing this game. However, this is not stopping people from Asia to enjoy cricket and to play it for days. A single game of cricket can sometimes take even five days to be completed.
Table tennis can be played by single players or by teams of tow and it’s incredibly popular in a lot of Asian countries, like China, South Korea or Vietnam. Table tennis is played over a table with a net in the middle, with small plastic balls, requiring a huge amount of concentration and coordination from the players. The rules are a lot like those of field tennis: every players needs to send back the balls and if they don’t succeed doing so the opponent receives points.
Gymnastics is, for decades, extremely popular in Asia, especially in China, but also North or South Korea and other Asian countries. Gymnastics is basically an individual sport, although during big competitions the athletes also compete in teams. Women gymnastics involves four different events: uneven parallel bars, floor exercise, balance beam and vaults. As for men, there are six events: floor exercise, pommel horse, still rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar. Each exercise of a gymnast receives point from a jury of specialists and the one that has more points wins a certain competition.
And, of course, this top wouldn’t be complete without mentioning old, traditional Asian fighting styles, collectively known as martial arts. There is a wide variety of such traditional sports, specific to certain countries, like kung-fu or wushu in China and karate or sumo in Japan.
By: → J. Highland