Top 10 Most Popular Sports in Pakistan

Pakistan has a diverse and vibrant sports culture. Cricket undoubtedly dominates as the nation’s most loved sport, but several other sports have huge followings and have brought glory for the country. Here are the 10 most popular sports that enthrall fans and attract talent across Pakistan.

1. Cricket Sports

Cricket is Pakistan’s national obsession and most followed sport. From grassroots levels to international stadiums, cricket permeates the social and cultural fabric.

Key Highlights

  • Pakistan has won the Cricket World Cup once in 1992 and the T20 World Cup in 2009.
  • Pakistank cricket has produced legends like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Javed Miandad and Shahid Afridi.
  • Top domestic tournaments like the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and national T20 tournament PSL evoke high passions.
  • Cricket grounds and academies thrive across cities like Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Multan and Faisalabad.

2. Field Hockey Sports

Field hockey is Pakistan’s national sport and a source of great national pride. Pakistan has dominated hockey globally with 4 World Cup wins.

Major Achievements

  • Pakistan has won Olympic gold medals in field hockey in 1960, 1968 and 1984.
  • Pakistan hockey legends like Hassan Sardar, Samiullah Khan and Shahbaz Ahmed have been among the game’s greats.
  • The Pakistan Hockey Federation has over 30,000 registered players nationwide and works tirelessly to revive Pakistan’s hockey glory.
  • Annual national championships and the Pakistan Hockey League engage fans and nurture talent.

3. Football Sports

Football has huge popularity, especially among younger fans. Local leagues, clubs and frequent tournaments have elevated football culture.

Surging Popularity

  • Premier football leagues like English Premier League and La Liga attract high viewership and fan following.
  • Pakistan’s domestic football league PFF League has 8 clubs across major cities. Karachi and Chaman clubs are traditional rivals.
  • International stars have emerged like Kaleemullah Khan who has played in the US and Australian leagues.
  • Grassroots programs and academies actively scout and groom young talent.

4. Kabaddi Sports

The high-octane sport kabaddi is widely played across rural and urban Pakistan. International successes have raised the sport’s profile.

Kabaddi Highlights

  • Kabaddi is the national sport of Pakistan. The standard style is played professionally.
  • Pakistan has won the Kabaddi World Cup in 2004, 2007 and 2016. Stars like Shafiq Chishti, Musharraf Muhammad and Shariq Chishti have emerged.
  • The Super Kabaddi League features both local and overseas players. Franchises from major cities compete passionately.
  • Women’s kabaddi is also popular, with Pakistan winning the Women’s Kabaddi World Cup in 2019.

5. Squash Sports

Squash has been a major success story for Pakistan, achieving international glory over decades.

Global Dominance

  • Jahangir Khan remained unbeaten in competitive play for 5 years between 1981-1986. He won the British Open a record 10 times.
  • Jansher Khan won 8 World Championships during the 1990s. Together with Jahangir, he is considered among the greatest squash players.
  • Pakistani squash legends Hashim Khan and Azam Khan won major British Open titles from the 1950s to 1970s putting Pakistan on the global squash map.
  • Today a national squash structure identifies and trains young talent across cities like Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi.

6. Boxing Sports

With rising stars and strong domestic talent, boxing is gaining popularity especially among younger fans.

Resurgence of Pakistani Boxing

  • Legends like Hussain Shah and Muhammad Ali Johar brought home Olympic medals and global glory between 1956 to 1988.
  • Modern stars like Muhammad Waseem and Shoaib Malik have continued Pakistan’s success including Commonwealth and World Boxing Council honors.
  • Professional boxing leagues PBL and PBC feature local and international boxers. Matches evoke patriotic passions among supporters.
  • Boxing academies nurture talent and offer training on par with international standards.

7. Snooker Sports

Cue sports like snooker and billiards have an avid player base and fan following driven by Pakistan’s excellence in these sports.

Competitive Snooker

  • Iconic players like Mohammad Yousuf and Naveen Perwani have won amateur and pro snooker events regionally and globally.
  • Pakistan’s Hamza Akbar is currently ranked among the world’s top 100 snooker players.
  • The Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association actively grooms new talent.
  • Major tournaments held annually include the National Snooker Championship and Jubilee Insurance Ranking Snooker tournament.

8. Polo Sports

The historic sport of kings, polo, is deeply entrenched in Pakistan’s culture. Top players and competitive tournaments keep interest alive.

Polo in Pakistan

  • Modern polo came to Pakistan during British rule. Today, the Pakistan Polo Association promotes and governs it professionally.
  • The Shandur Polo Festival held annually in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan attracts over 25,000 spectators.
  • Top clubs like Lahore Polo Club, Rawalpindi Polo Club and Karachi Polo Club regularly host tournaments and groom players.
  • Players like Helviz Saeed have kept Pakistan among the top polo playing nations.

9. Wrestling Sports

Traditional wrestling styles like Malla-yuddha and Pehlwani enjoy a long heritage and thriving interest in Pakistan.

Strong Wrestling Culture

  • Regional wrestling styles practiced include Moksha Patam in Sindh, Jurrsha in Balochistan and Malakhra in Punjab.
  • The Annual National Wrestling Championship attracts over 100 participants across weight categories competing in different styles.
  • Prominent wrestling akharas like Talimer Akhara in Lahore train aspirants.
  • International wrestlers like Inam Butt have earned medals and glory for Pakistan.

10. Badminton Sports

Badminton is practised recreationally and competitively across Pakistan. Stars have emerged on the international stage.

Badminton Passion

  • Pakistan’s Naveed Zaman competed at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics in badminton. He also had notable wins at the Commonwealth Games.
  • Upcoming players like Irfan Saeed and Ghazala Siddique have shown promise, winning youth tournaments.
  • Badminton leagues, national and international tournaments see rising participation.
  • Coaching academies actively groom talent starting from a young age. Stars train aspiring youth.

In summary, cricket understandably dominates Pakistan’s sporting landscape but other sports contribute immensely to national pride and identity. Field hockey, squash and kabaddi have brought global glory. Meanwhile football, boxing, snooker, polo, wrestling and badminton enthral domestic fans while producing international caliber talent. Sports culture cuts across Pakistan’s geography, class and gender, unifying the nation in passions and achievements.

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