Sport and Recreation in Madagascar
Madagascar beating Uganda 24 - 00 on 27th April at Mombasa Sports Club, Kenya
A number of traditional pastimes have emerged in Madagascar. Moraingy, a type of hand-to-hand combat, is a popular spectator sport in coastal regions. It is traditionally practiced by men, but women have recently begun to participate. The wrestling of zebu cattle, which is named savika or tolon-omby, is also practiced in many regions. In addition to sports, a wide variety of games are played. Among the most emblematic is fanorona, a board game widespread throughout the Highland regions. According to folk legend, the succession of King Andrianjaka after his father Ralambo was partially due to the obsession that Andrianjaka's older brother may have had with playing fanorona to the detriment of his other responsibilities.
Western recreational activities were introduced to Madagascar over the past two centuries. Rugby Union is considered the national sport of Madagascar. Football is also popular. Madagascar has produced a world champion in pétanque, a French game similar to lawn bowling, which is widely played in urban areas and throughout the Highlands. School athletics programs typically include soccer, track and field, judo, boxing, women's basketball and women's tennis. Madagascar sent its first competitors to the Olympic Games in 1964 and has also competed in the African Games. Scouting is represented in Madagascar by its own local federation of three scouting clubs. Membership in 2011 was estimated at 14,905.
Major Sports of Madagascar
With the people of the country engaged in various sports and activities, Madagascar sports form a major component of recreation in the island. Besides a recreational activity sports in Madagascar also holds an important place in the professional arena as many people select sports as a career option.
Madagascar sports include athletics, football, boxing, judo, tennis, basketball and various other games. From high school to the national level, the sports of Madagascar are practiced by many people of Madagascar. The country also participates in the international competitions especially in the field of Athletics.
Women's basketball and women's tennis are two of the major sports at Madagascar. There are many sportspersons who have distinguished themselves in these two games and also in athletics. Madagascar has been sending its national champions to international sports events like the U.S Open and Olympics. Athletes from Madagascar have participated in the World Cup in Athletics representing pan-Africa. Madagascar sportspersons have also represented the country in All-Africa Games.
Savika – Wrestling Angry Bulls in Madagascar
Savika is a rodeo-like sport practiced by men of the Betsileo ethnic group in Madagascar. It’s considered a rite of passage, and any man who dares dance with the angry zebus is considered a hero of the community.
No one remembers exactly when savika was invented, but everyone agrees it has been practiced by Betsileo men for centuries. The traditional sport is enjoyed by all members of the community, be they men or women, young or old, rich or poor, and is considered a unifying factor that brings everyone together. Savika is also a rite of passage for young boys who want to prove their manhood, and one of the best forms of courtship for single men. Apparently nothing impresses Betsileo women more than seeing their men dance with a zebu – a kind of domesticated cattle with long horns and a distinctive hump.
A savika event begins with the zebu being teased into frustration, before the players (called mpisavika) start sneaking up behind it trying to grab its hump and hang on to it for as long as possible without getting trampled or stabbed in the process. It’s a dangerous sport and injuries do occur, but savika has been around forever and the Betsileo love it so much it has even become a celebration at weddings and baptisms. The brave mpisavika who dance with the bulls don’t receive any trophies for their courage, and they don’t need any – the respect of the community and the status of hero are more than enough.