Sunday, January 17, 2010

Badminton, Malaysian Style

Now that a new semester is starting, our Student Affairs Department (Hal Ehwal Pelajar) has been busy putting together activities for students to participate in, and for lecturers to oversee. We lecturers are not really keen on doing their work for them, but one must go along, for the sake of harmony.

(Right: Typical sport clothing for Malays)

This past weekend, I was drafted into being the announcer on the final day of a badminton tournament. I thought that I was doing my duty in overseeing a student activity, but it turned out to be a tournament for the staff members of five different colleges, including my own. That they chose me -the only non-Malaysian- to be the announcer, indicated that the post was not that important. Still, I thought that it would be interesting for non-Malaysians to see how popular badminton is with Malaysians.

(Left: For the more conservative, motion is restricted.)

Badminton has never been a serious sport for Americans, in fact, our leading players are sometimes fairly recent immigrants from places that take the sport seriously. Malaysians love badminton, and the sport that they most identify with. Certainly, football (soccer) is popular to play growing up, but Malaysia has never really excelled internationally at that sport. In badminton, however, Malaysian athletes routinely compete at the top-level against other nations that take the sport seriously (e.g., Indonesia, China, Denmark).

(Right: Maybe not that interested in playing)

One thing that stands out immediately, to the newby, is that Malays tend to be more conservative in their sport clothing than other races. Both men and women wear full pants, although a few men might wear long shorts (more like Capri pants, 3/4 leg). Additionally, the Malay women will cover (bertudong) their heads. Some wear the regular tudong; some bandannas; but the most conservative will wear the very large tudong that is associated with stricter Islamic sects. One of our staff members (in two photos) wore her large tudong, and watching her, it was certainly evident that it restricted her arm motions. But, as you can see by her reading at the sidelines between matches, I suspect that she had been drafted into filling out the roster and was not that into the sport.

In the end, Malays are very communal in that it is all about being together and participating in an activity. Who wins is not as important, it seems, as getting along, and that can be quite refreshing. As I told my colleague -who had drafted me into being the announcer- as long as it ends, and we can all go home safely, the scores were secondary.

Politeknik Sultan Abdul Shah (PoliSAS) hosted the event, and I was quite impressed with their bucolic campus. Set not too far off a major highway, they had retained enough forest cover and natural wetlands to make for a very pleasant setting.

1 comment:

  1. Really very informative article. Photos are just awesome. This sharing concept is a good way to enhance the knowledge pool about badminton. Thank you very much for this post.