Asian Games 2018 - Most popular sports in Indonesia


This year is a very exciting year for Indonesia. The biggest sport event in Asia, the 18th Asian Games 2018 being held simultaneously in Jakarta and Palembang in South Sumatera Province. With the event approaching, we, Indonesians are very enthusiastic to see if our athletes can win more medals for the country.

Among the sports that will be featured, the Indonesian people always have their favorite ones. Yup, sports that are loved by people of all ages. The other day I was thinking of conducting a small survey to find out the three most popular sports in Indonesia. I managed to ask some UniBRIDGE fellows of mine, my family, my friends at work, and my AIYA Eastern Indonesia friends and I’ve finally got  the result. So what are they? Let’s start from the most popular.


Football is arguably the number 1 most well-known sport in Indonesia. We are all huge fans of football despite the fact that we always experience limited success at the international level. Every football match, whether it is a local, regional, national or international match will definitely draw a lot of attention, euphoria and crowds. Most Indonesians usually stay up late just to watch a football match and this happens everywhere. Like when the FIFA World Cup fever was heating up, it was very common to see football fans flock together in bars, cafes, restaurants, shopping avenues, and even backyards, as well as other public places with big-screens to watch the World Cup matches together. It's known as ‘nobar’ (nonton bareng = watch together). Some fanatic fans even wear their favorite teams’ jerseys and paint their faces with flags of their favorite teams.

Football is always played by all age levels, from children to even old men. It is played everywhere, in muddy fields, in front of people's houses, or on the street. I bet that there is hardly anyone in Indonesia who has not kicked a ball at some point in their life. It proves that football is also the most accessible sport because it is very easy to play.



In second place is the source of great pride for Indonesians, badminton. Indonesian badminton players are well-known for their achievements at the international level. It is inevitable that this sport becomes really famous because it has brought Indonesia lots of gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympics, Asian Games, and Thomas & Uber Cup. Indonesia is consistently among the best in the world of shuttlecocks. Many Indonesians like to spend their time watching live badminton matches on TV to support the Indonesian athletes, either when they’re at home or when they’re at work.

Playing badminton is easy and not expensive. It can be played both indoors and outdoors. Just like football, it is common to see children or even adults playing badminton in their backyards or even on the street. That’s why it will always become one of Indonesia’s favorite sports of all time.



Choosing the third most popular sport in Indonesia was a bit difficult. Since almost everybody whom I’ve asked gave me different answers. l ended up choosing volleyball. Why? Although Indonesia is not the greatest country in the world to ever play volleyball, the sport is of course one of the leading sports that brings Indonesia medals in SEA Games, a biennial multi-sport event involving 11 Southeast Asian countries. It is among the sports that have grown in the society and is often played by Indonesians. Just go to an Indonesian neighborhood and you’ll see that we definitely love playing volleyball in our spare time just for fun or watching volleyball match because of its simplicity.

Sepakbola, Bulu Tangkis and Bola Voli are not merely sports. They are sources of pride and each of them is a medium that unites the nation’s togetherness spirit and boosts our nationalism as well as our enthusiasm for events such as the Asian Games. These is my version of Indonesia’s three most popular sports. What are yours? :)

By Richard Williams