What is Maldives’ national sport?

The Maldives, a beautiful island nation in South Asia, boasts a rich cultural heritage and a diverse range of recreational activities. Among the various aspects that contribute to the country’s uniqueness, the national sport of Maldives holds a special place. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of Maldives’ national sport, uncovering its history, significance, and the role it plays in the lives of the Maldivian people. Whether you are a sports enthusiast or simply curious about different cultures, this article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of Maldives’ national sport.

History of Maldives’ national sport

Origins of Maldives’ national sport

The origins of Maldives’ national sport can be traced back to ancient times. The sport, known as "Baibala," has been an integral part of Maldivian culture for centuries. Baibala is a unique form of martial art that combines elements of hand-to-hand combat, self-defense techniques, and traditional dance.

Legend has it that Baibala was introduced to the Maldives by a group of warriors who traveled from India to the island nation. These warriors showcased their skills and taught the locals the art of self-defense. Over time, Baibala became deeply ingrained in Maldivian society, evolving into the national sport it is today.

Evolution of Maldives’ national sport

Throughout history, the national sport of Maldives has undergone several transformations. Initially, Baibala was primarily practiced by warriors and used as a means of self-defense during times of conflict. However, as the Maldivian society evolved and became more peaceful, the focus of the sport shifted towards promoting physical fitness, discipline, and cultural preservation.

During the reign of King Koimala, Baibala was further developed and organized into a formal sport. Rules and regulations were established, and competitions were held to showcase the skills and talents of the participants. The sport gained popularity among the Maldivian population and became an essential part of their identity.

Significance of Maldives’ national sport in the past

In the past, the national sport of Maldives played a crucial role in various aspects of society. Baibala not only served as a means of self-defense but also acted as a form of entertainment, bringing communities together. Competitions and demonstrations were often held during festive occasions and special events, uniting people from different regions of the Maldives.

Furthermore, Baibala was considered a symbol of national pride and cultural heritage. It reflected the strength, agility, and resilience of the Maldivian people. The sport was passed down through generations, with parents teaching their children the techniques and traditions associated with Baibala.

In conclusion, the history of Maldives’ national sport, Baibala, dates back to ancient times, where it was introduced by Indian warriors. Over the years, it has evolved from a form of self-defense to a formal sport that promotes physical fitness and cultural preservation. Baibala has played a significant role in uniting communities and preserving the Maldivian identity, making it an integral part of the nation’s history and heritage.

Popular sports in Maldives


Football is one of the most popular sports in Maldives. The nation has a deep love for the sport, and it is played and followed by a large number of Maldivians. The Maldives Football Association (MFA) is responsible for organizing and overseeing football activities in the country. The national football team of Maldives competes in international tournaments and represents the nation with great pride.


Volleyball is another sport that holds significant popularity in Maldives. The Maldives Volleyball Association (MVA) is responsible for promoting and developing volleyball in the country. The sport is played both recreationally and competitively, with numerous volleyball clubs and teams across the nation. Maldivians enjoy watching and participating in volleyball matches, making it a prominent sport within the Maldivian sports culture.


Cricket has gained considerable popularity in Maldives over the years. The Maldives Cricket Board (MCB) governs and organizes cricket activities in the country. While cricket may not be as widely played as football or volleyball, it has a dedicated following in Maldives. The national cricket team of Maldives competes internationally and has achieved recognition for their performances.

In addition to football, volleyball, and cricket, other sports such as badminton, swimming, and tennis also have a significant presence in the Maldivian sports scene. These sports contribute to the overall sporting culture of Maldives and provide opportunities for athletes to excel and represent the nation on various platforms.

Traditional sports in Maldives


Gaa is one of the traditional sports in Maldives that holds great significance in the local culture. It is a unique form of ball game, similar to the popular sport of rugby, but with its own distinctive rules and gameplay. Gaa is played between two teams, each consisting of around 14 to 21 players. The objective of the game is to score points by carrying and throwing a ball into the opponent’s goal area, which is marked by two sticks. The players showcase their agility, strength, and teamwork while engaging in this fast-paced and energetic sport. Gaa not only serves as a recreational activity but also plays a vital role in fostering camaraderie and promoting physical fitness among the Maldivian community.

Bodu Beru

Bodu Beru is not just a traditional music form in Maldives but also a lively and vibrant group activity that involves dance and rhythmic drumming. It is often considered a cultural sport due to its interactive nature and the physical exertion it requires. Bodu Beru performances typically feature a group of drummers and dancers, creating a captivating spectacle of synchronized movements and infectious beats. The dancers showcase their agility and coordination while the drummers create an electrifying rhythm using traditional drums called "bodu beru." This spirited activity not only brings people together but also provides an exhilarating experience that reflects the rich cultural heritage of Maldives.

Dhivehi Kendhun

Dhivehi Kendhun, also known as Maldivian wrestling, is a traditional sport that has been practiced for centuries in the Maldives. It is a form of folk wrestling that combines elements of strength, strategy, and endurance. Dhivehi Kendhun is typically held on sandy grounds and involves two wrestlers engaging in a physical combat. The objective is to bring down the opponent to the ground using various techniques and holds, without striking or kicking. The sport requires immense physical strength, balance, and flexibility, making it a challenging yet captivating activity. Dhivehi Kendhun not only serves as a competitive sport but also plays a significant role in preserving the cultural heritage and traditions of Maldives.

These traditional sports of Gaa, Bodu Beru, and Dhivehi Kendhun are deeply rooted in the Maldivian culture and hold a special place in the hearts of the local community. They not only provide entertainment and recreational opportunities but also serve as a means of preserving the rich heritage and traditions of Maldives.

The national sport of Maldives holds a significant place in the culture and identity of the country. As a nation surrounded by the vast Indian Ocean, it comes as no surprise that Maldivians have a deep connection with water sports. While there are various popular activities like football and cricket, the traditional sport of Maldives is known as "bodu beru," a type of drumming and dancing performed by a group of men. This lively and energetic sport not only showcases the island nation’s rich heritage but also serves as a source of unity and entertainment for the local community. With its vibrant rhythms and captivating performances, bodu beru truly represents the spirit and passion of Maldivian culture.

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