Wondering what topic can help you gain the love of the locals? Then now is the time for you to consider learning about sports! Today, we're going to give you a list of Lao sports vocabulary perfect for total beginners in the language. Sports are very popular in Laos. However, due to a lack of suitable playing facilities, no Lao team or sportsperson has ever really impacted the world of sport. Undeniably the most popular sport in Laos is also the most popular in the world: Soccer, or as it's known in Lao: ບານເຕະ (ban te).
|American Football||ban te a mel ika||ບານເຕະອາເມລິກາ|
|Motor Racing||aekhng lod||ແຂ່ງລົດ|
|Baseball||be s bom||ເບສບອນ|
|Badminton||kila ti dok pikkai||ກິລາຕີດອກປີກໄກ່|
|Muay Lao||muany Lao||ມວຍລາວ|
Laos and Thailand share a lot, including the ancient Tai language. If you've been to Thailand, perhaps you were lucky enough to see a Muay Thai Fight. Well, Laos has its version called Muay Lao.
Be warned; this is not a sport for the fainthearted. If you think boxing is too brutal, then you're definitely not going to like Muay Lao. Muay Lao is known as the art of 8 limbs because an attacker has 2 fists, 2 shins, 2 elbows, and 2 knees that they can use.
Fights are often bloody affairs, and a winner is only declared after someone has been knocked out or defeated on points(fights can last up to 15 minutes).
The fight has a profoundly symbolic undercurrent. Before the matchup, the fighters do a ritual dance accompanied by a Javanese tom-tom drum. The drum also plays during the fight and builds into a gradual crescendo as rounds go on.
Lao fighters are mainly known for their kicks, and the sport is at times almost straight kickboxing--compared to the more varied attacks you see in Muay Thai.
Lao fighters are generally paid much less than Thai fighters because of the economic situation in each country.
What remains particularly controversial in both Muay Thai and Muay Lao is child fighters. Data is hard to come by in Laos, but human rights groups and journalists have been researching Thailand. According to the new york times, there were 10,373 child fighters registered in the seven years between 2010 and 2017. However, the amount of unofficial fighters is estimated to be 20x higher than this.
Laos has done comparatively nothing in the football world compared to other nations around it. Although it has a domestic league, it is tiny even compared to nearby Thailand, which is also small by regional standards.
The Laos football association has been around since 1951. Still, they've never made it to a major international competition in all that time.
The furthest the Lao national football team has ever got is the ASEAN football championship, although they came nowhere near winning it.
A scandal rocked the Lao football scene in 2017 when it was announced that the national team was being investigated for match-fixing. As a result, 15 Laos stars were banned for life, something which has left the Lao national team in a state of turmoil ever since.
That being said, the average Lao citizen's fondness for the beautiful game has not been dampened. The Premier League is almost as big a cultural institution in Laos as in England. Expect to see locals every Saturday and Sunday flooding into bars with their Liverpool and Manchester United flags. Whenever I got into a taxi in Vientiane, I was asked where I came from and whether or not I liked the team.
Although regular people play soccer a lot, there's also another fascinating game called kataw that you will see being played on the streets of Vientiane. It is a strange mix of football and volleyball. Basically, you need to get the ball back over the net using your feet, chest, head, and knees.
I hadn't heard of it before coming to Asia, but you regularly see it in parks around dusk as the heat of the day is beginning to wane.
Unfortunately, this last section is very short. The Lao People's Democratic Republic has only made it to seven summers Olympic Games, and not surprisingly, zero winter Olympics. In the 2020 Olympics, they entered four athletes into the competition. 2 in swimming, 1 in judo, and 1 in sprinting.
But the Lao people shouldn't feel too down. Laos is changing fast, spurred on by China's economic miracle, and if they want to look for a model, they will do well to copy the Chinese. China went from 5 golds in 1988 to 48 in 2008.
I hope that list was as fun to read as it was to write. The Lao language is my favorite of all the other languages I write about.
Take a moment and picture yourself now with a drink beside the Mekong River as the sun slowly sets, and you know you've still got two weeks left on your Lao vacation. The only thing missing is speaking a bit of the local language to make things easier for you.
We have everything you could wish for in an app, from speaking practice to reading, writing, and listening (The Lao alphabet is particularly tricky to learn, and our trace function teaches you to write letters, then the word).
Don't forget to keep following this blog for other similar content and more information. It's free after all! Learning a new language is tremendously fun.
Until the next time.