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Friday, 26 September 2014

Local Sports in Popular EFL Countries

One thing that can bring people together is sports. In many places worldwide, people will get behind their local or traditional teams and come together to watch a game/match. In this article, we will talk about some of the most popular sports in EFL countries and some of the local sports that you never get a chance to watch outside of that country. Rather than list every single EFL country (there are so many!), we will list 8 countries very popular among EFL teachers in different continents.

UAE (United Arab Emirates)
The UAE is probably most well known for emerging city, Dubai, which has become a thriving metropolis of astounding architecture engineering ingenuity. The climate in the UAE is typically quite hot and arid. Football (soccer) is the most popular sport, fielding competitive local and international teams. Tennis, cricket and Motorsport are also very popular. If traveling to the UAE, you may have a chance to watch some camel racing. While camel racing is an old, traditional sport, the introduction of ‘robot jockeys’ has brought it into the digital age.

Japan loves baseball! The Nippon Professional Baseball League is the biggest sports competition in Japan in terms of spectators. Each city has its local team, and each weekend, stadiums are packed with fans. As well as western sports (Japan also loves basketball, football and golf), there are many traditional sports in Japan. Martial arts, such as Karate, Judo and Kendo are fairly popular, and many young people are encouraged to take them for health and self-discipline reasons. Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport and probably the most iconic. If you get the chance to see these mighty warriors in action, it is definitely a memorable experience.

South Korea is Japans closet rival in many areas of sport. Whenever the national teams of these two N.E Asian countries clash, it is bound to be an exciting match up. Just as with Japan, South Koreans follow many local competitions of Western sports such as football, baseball and basketball. Korea also has its own local sports, such as TaeKwonDo, and a form of wrestling, known as Ssireum. South Korea is also famous for following video game tournaments, with several cable TV channels dedicated to round the clock matches of Star Craft (a game now 16 years old), DOTA and many others.

Sport is a big part of Thai culture. As with Korea and Japan, there is a huge following of golf and football. Other popular sports include badminton, volleyball and boxing. Rugby is also an emerging sport in Thailand, with the TRU growing in popularity. The most famous and widely followed sport in Thailand is Muay Thai kickboxing. This is a brutal martial art that utilizes the fists, elbows, knees and shins, and requires participants to be in peak physical condition. The sport has been gaining popularity worldwide, but there is nothing like watching a live match in Thailand.

There is one major sport in Brazil, football. It is such a part of their national identity that banks will close before world cup games so that the workers have time to prepare before watching the match. They have won the world cup a record five times, and are the only country to qualify for every world cup. The warm climate and active lifestyle of the Brazilian people mean that there are many popular sports, if football is not your thing. Brazilian people also love beach volleyball, mixed martial arts and formula 1 racing.

In China, there is a lot of emphasis on physical fitness, therefore China has traditionally been associated with martial arts sports. Recently, however, China has risen on the world stage as a major competitor in many international competitions. Like many countries in Asia, badminton, basketball and football are all incredibly popular. Ping Pong and gymnastics are also fortes, however, may be less televised. For some local flavor, head down to your local park on a warm day and watch the people playing Xiangqi (also known as Chinese chess). It is a quiet, strategic game that is accessible to anyone.


Swiss people are active! One in four Switermen/women is part of a sporting club of some kind, ranging from rugby to ice hockey. Due to climate and geography, winter sports are highly popular, and most Swiss people have some skiing experience. Swiss people are also avid football fans and follow local and international teams. There are also traditional sports, such as Schwingen (a type of wrestling), Hornussen (which is kind of like baseball, but with a 300kph flying stone “hornet” instead of a ball), and Steinstossen (a stone throwing contest and part of the Unspunnenfest). These sports may be less prolifent in Switzerland these days, but are still very fun to pronounce!


The Czech Republic is a country rich in history and many people that travel there are more interested in architecture and art than sport. However, sport plays a big part in the lives of many people in the Czech Republic. The two biggest sports in the Czech Republic are football and ice hockey. In fact, there is a huge following of team sports, with other popular sports including basketball, volleyball, handball, and Floorball. The third most popular sport in the Czech Republic is shooting. Being a landlocked country, winter sports are much more popular than water sports.


You may also be interested in viewing our Country Profiles which provides information about working and getting hired in 49 different countries.

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