Popular Sports in Nepal: From Traditional Games to Modern Athletes

With the growing popularity of sports in Nepal, many people are searching for information on the most popular sports in Nepal. From traditional sports like Kho Kho and Dandi Biyo to modern sports like Football and Cricket, Nepalese love competing with one another to see who’s fastest or strongest.

The sports culture in Nepal is not as robust as other countries, but there are plenty of sports that are still very popular among Nepalese people. If you’re interested in learning more about the most popular sports in Nepal, this article can teach you all you need to know.

In this blog post, we’ll look at 10 of the most popular sports in Nepal and why they’re so widely enjoyed across the country.

Many people don’t realize the sheer number of sports played in Nepal and the large number of athletes that participate in these sports. In order to better understand what your choices are, here’s our list of the top 10 most popular sports in Nepal. Let’s get started!

1. Cricket

With the growing popularity of Cricket in the countries of South Asian continents for the past few decades, Cricket has been also become the most popular sports in Nepal. Played by many people in the country, it is especially more popular in the terai region of Nepal than other parts of Nepal. Cricket was introduced in Nepal in the early 1920s for the first time by Lt.General Madan Shumsher JBR during the time when Cricket was considered only as “the gentlemen’s game’.

That’s why it was limited to the ruling Rana family and some elites of Nepal. But today, Cricket has widely flourished in Nepal, and has become the most popular sport in the country.

Nepal has its own National Cricket Team which has produced many great Cricketers in the country like Paras Khadka, Bindo Das, Shakti Gauchan, Sandeep Lamichhane, and many who have inspired and are still inspiring many Nepalese youths to become Cricketer and play for their country.

2. Football

Football has been one of the most popular and major sports in Nepal for the quite long time. Before Cricket gained its popularity in the country, Football was the most popular sport in Nepal. Still, it is the most played sport in the country.

It is played on various domestic levels in the country, and for international matches, the country has Nepal National Football Team which is governed by All Nepal Football Association(ANFA). Though it is the second most popular sport in country, it has the most number of events in a year than other sports in Nepal.

Football is played by different age groups. Football was also introduced in Nepal in the early 1920s by some young players who had learned this game from other countries. It became quite popular among the masses instantly after its introduction in the country.

3. Volleyball

You may be surprised after knowing the fact that Volleyball is the national sport of Nepal. Volleyball was declared as the national sport of Nepal on 23 May 2017. Everyone in the country love playing Volleyball. It can be seen playing in Nepal from the higher Himalayas to plain Terai region.

Volleyball in Nepal is governed by Nepal Volleyball Association that represents Nepal in the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball and the Asian Volleyball Confederation, as well as the volleyball sports in the National Sports Council (Nepal).

4. Badminton/Tennis

Even considered as the game of rich people, Badminton/Tennis is quite popular in Nepal among general people. It is seen being played by peope of many age groups in Nepal. The game is though more popular in schools and colleges of Nepal. During winter season in the country, someone can easily notice this game played by group of peoples in the morning time.

5. Kabaddi

Kabaddi is the most popular traditional sport in Nepal. Having the history back to the vedic period of ancient India, Kabaddi is one of the most ancient sports that is popular all over the world in the present day. It is a game played by two teams having seven players in each. the objective of the game is for a single player on offence, referred to as a “raider”, to run into the opposing team’s half of a court, touch out as many of their defenders as possible, and return to their own half of the court, all without being tackled by the defenders, and in a single breath.

Kabaddi is widely played in Nepal, especially in the rural areas. It is a sport that almost every Nepalese must have played during thier childhool. But now with growing global popularity of this game, it has also started playing professionally in Nepal.

6. Kho Kho

After Kabaddi, Kho Kho is the second most popular traditional ancient sport which is very popular in Nepal. Like Kabaddi, it is also a tag game played by two teams with 12 nominated players out of 15 in each team. 9 out of these 12 players enter the field who sit on their knees(chasing team) and three extras(defending team) try to avoid being touched by members of the other opposing team.

The origin of this game is very difficult to trace, but though many historians and proofs date back this sport to ancient India. It is widely played in the rural areas of Nepal. Nepal also has a both male and female national Kho Kho team that represents the country in different International matches.

7. Kushti

Kushti, also known as Pehlwani is one of the most popular sports in Nepal, especially in the rural areas of Terai region of Nepal. It is a form of wrestling that was developed by combining persian Koshti Pahlevani with the influences from ancient Indian Malla-Yuddha. Kushti is a sport that has influenced modernday wrestling, catch wrestling, freestyle wrestling, and mixed martial arts.

Several local tournaments are organized in Terai region of Nepal, especially on the ocassions of festivals where wrestlers from different parts of Nepal and India participate.

8. Dandi Biyo

Dandi Biyo is an ancient game which is quite popular in Nepal. Untill Volleyball was declared as the national sport of Nepal on May 23, 2017, Volleyball was considered as the de facto national game of Nepal. It is a game which is played by two or more players with a stick (dandi) about 2 feet (61 cm) long and a wooden pin (biyo) about 6 inches (15 cm) long. The pin(biyo) is a piece of small wooden stick with pointed ends.

Dandi biyo is one of many such games that were locally developed in rural areas reflecting use of local tools and techniques. In the context of modern games, dandi biyo is close to cricket. The player can be compared to the “batsman” and the other players to the “fielders”.

9. Boxing/Karate

Boxing and Karate are the two most popular martial arts sports in Nepal. Martial art sports are gaining rapid popularity in Nepal from last few decades. There are several institutes and training centres in Nepal where kids and youths are trained for boxing and karate under the management of governing bodies like Nepal Boxing Association. Many players from both boxing and karate have been presenting Nepal at the international levels.

10. Swimming

The popularity of swimming in Nepal has increased in the past few years after professional swimmers have been setting new national and international records for the country. Swimmers like Gaurika Singh held many records since the beginning of her career, including the record of winning 4 gold medals in 2019 South Asian Games that was held in Nepal. Swimming is the national sports of Nepal with both men and women National team which are governed under the management of Nepal Swimming Association(NSA).

Conclusion

Nepal might not be at the top of your list when you think of sports, but there are actually quite a few popular sports that are enjoyed here. There are many famous and popular sports in Nepal. Some of them are modern while some are very traditional dating back to many years ago. Out of all sports that are played in Nepal, these are our picks of the most popular ones. Let us know what do you think about sports in Nepal!

FAQs

1. Which is the national sport of Nepal?

Volleyball is the official national sport of Nepal. On 23 May 2017, Volleyball was declared as the national sport of Nepal.

2. Is Kabaddi a national game of Nepal?

No, Kabaddi isn’t a national game of Nepal. Though it was cosidered as a national game of Nepal, due to government support for the game, it wasn’t considered as national game of Nepal.

3. What is the most popular sport in Nepal?

Cricket and Football are the two most popular sports in Nepal. The craze and the popularity of these two games are unmatcheable in Nepal.

4. Which game is only played in Nepal?

Nepal’s traditional game Dandi Biyo is only played in Nepal.

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