A number of traditional pastimes have emerged in Madagascar. Moraingy, a type of hand-to-hand combat, is a popular spectator sport in coastal regions.
It is traditionally practiced by men, but women have recently begun to participate. The wrestling of zebu cattle, which is named savika or tolon-omby, is also practiced in many regions.
In addition to sports, a wide variety of games are played. Among the most emblematic is fanorona, a board game widespread throughout the Highland regions.
According to folk legend, the succession of King Andrianjaka after his father Ralambo was partially due to the obsession that Andrianjaka’s older brother may have had with playing fanorona to the detriment of his other responsibilities.
Western recreational activities were introduced to Madagascar over the past two centuries. Rugby union is considered the national sport of Madagascar. Soccer is also popular.
Madagascar has produced a world champion in pétanque, a French game similar to lawn bowling, which is widely played in urban areas and throughout the Highlands.
School athletics programs typically include soccer, track and field, judo, boxing, women’s basketball and women’s tennis. Madagascar sent its first competitors to the Olympic Games in 1964 and has also competed in the African Games.
Scouting is represented in Madagascar by its own local federation of three scouting clubs. Membership in 2011 was estimated at 14,905.
Because of its advanced sports facilities, Antananarivo gained the hosting rights for several of Africa’s top international basketball events, including the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship, the 2009 FIBA Africa Championship for Women, the 2014 FIBA Africa Under-18 Championship, the 2013 FIBA Africa Under-16 Championship, and the 2015 FIBA Africa Under-16 Championship for Women.