Football arrived in Malaya with the British. The locals soon picked up the game and before long it was the country’s leading sport. As early as 1921, a national league featuring all the states that made up Malaya was started. The league, known as the Malaya Cup and later renamed the Malaysia Cup (in 1963) has been held without a break, except during the war years.

Malaysia is also home to one of the oldest football events in the region, the Merdeka Tournament, which was organised in conjunction with the country’s independence in 1957. With such a head start over the others in the region, Malaysia were the leading football nation and enjoyed success in the 50s through to the 70s and early 80s. Their success included qualifying for the 1972 and 1980 Olympics.

At the Southeast Asian level, the Malaysian team also won numerous accolades but their international standing has suffered a decline in recent times. The FA of Malaysia (FAM) has implemented various programmes including concentrating on youth development in a bid to revive the game in the country.

The Malaysian league turned semi-professional in 1989 before going fully professional a few years later.


Fast Facts
Climate: The weather is hot and rainy throughout the year. Rainfall is the highest during the monsoon season from November to around February. The eastern coast of the peninsula receives heavy rain during this monsoon period. The temperature usually hovers around 30 degrees Celcius although it gets colder during the nights.

Geography: Malaysia is divided into the peninsula on the west and east Malaysia across the South China Sea. East Malaysia is made up of two states, which straddle Brunei on the island of Borneo. The highest peak in South East Asia stands in the state of Sabah. Mount Kinabalu towers 4100m and overlooks the vast 750 square kilometer Kinabalu National Park.

Population: The population stands at around 22 million. The nation is made up of mainly ethnic Malays who account for more than half the population with the Chinese and Indians making up the two other major groups. The indigenous Orang Asli, who live in the central regions of the peninsula, and the various tribes in East Malaysia, account for a sizeable part of the population.

Economy: From being the world’s main exporter of tin and rubber, which have suffered from slumping prices, Malaysia has shifted towards the manufacturing of goods, which includes electronic components of which the country is a major supplier globally.

Religion: Islam is the official religion. Other religions including Christianity and Hinduism are freely practised in this country. Buddhism is also practised mainly by those of Chinese origin.

Language: Bahasa Malaysia is the official language and it is almost similar to the Malay language spoken by the people of Indonesia. English is widely spoken in this former British colony.

Currency: The Malaysian currency is known as the Ringgit. (US$1 equals 3.80 RM).


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