I’m obsessed with dodgeball, which allows me to achieve great results in a small sport.
If you can’t decide which Malaysian sports team to support, choose dodgeball. (MAD photo)

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s men’s, women’s and mixed teams led the country to No. 1 overall in the world in form dodgeball, cementing its power in non-core sports.

The latest overall world rankings, based on cumulative points from international competitions, place Malaysia ahead of 80 countries, followed by Canada (2nd), Australia (3rd) and the United States (4th).

Three years ago, Malaysia was ranked 8th in the same ranking. The men’s and women’s teams placed first and second in form.

Dodgeball has given a nation, succumbing to poor performance in its popular sport without formal funding, a reason to stand tall.

To be a supporter of Malaysian soccer, hockey or badminton teams these days is to know grief all too well.

Malaysian Dodgeball Association (MAD) president Radha Krishnan Nair said: “This small sport that has achieved great things is still in its infancy.”

The biggest victory was for the men’s form team, which won its first Asian title in November last year after being world champions in 2017, 2018 and 2022.

The current world champion in form dodgeball and his teammates in other categories. (MAD photo)

Radha Krishnan aims to make dodgeball a source of pride for Malaysians and hopes the country will become the center of the sport in Asia.

“We are planning to hold the World Championship in 2026 and this will have a huge impact on the growth of dodgeball in Malaysia and Asia,” Radha Krishnan said.

Radha Krishnan, who is also president of the Dodgeball Federation of Asia (DBFA), said the sport is currently active in 20 Asian countries and more countries are being persuaded to join.

He said MAD has supported the creation of dodgeball in Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand and Bangladesh.

Thanks to the National Institute of Sport, we have also played an important role in the development of coaching based on sports science.

Two months ago, MAD secretary Dasataran Subramaniam had traveled to Hyderabad and Haryana in India to train 50 coaches and develop the game.

Dasataran, who is also DBFA secretary, will conduct a coaching clinic in Thailand next week, followed by training in Iran, Jordan and Pakistan.

Radha Krishnan says she has successfully persuaded the World Dodgeball Federation (WDF) to scrap the qualifying rounds for this year’s World Cup in Austria.

“Twelve Asian countries have already confirmed their participation in this event and we hope that many more will join,” said Radha Krishnan, vice-chairman of WDF.

Dodgeball no ducking growth

Many young people are encouraged to play dodgeball as it is a good opportunity to represent Malaysia. (MAD photo)

Radha Krishnan said the sport has a huge following among Malaysian youth, with high participation rates in tertiary institutions and clubs.

Around 10,000 players are now ducking, diving and dodging in the hopes of being part of Malaysia’s emotional story of dodgeball.

He said 80 per cent of them are playing foam dodgeball, while the rest are playing the fabric ball version of the sport, which is run by the Malaysian Dodgeball Federation (MDF).

The 14-year-old MAD and the five-year-old MDF are in talks to merge and become part of the Malaysian Olympic Council.

Radha Krishnan said efforts are underway to select under-12 and under-15 students from 250 schools to represent them in dodgeball at the World Junior Championships to be held in Canada in October.

“It makes you feel good when so many people are gaining a sense of community.

“Many people are encouraged to play this sport as it is a good opportunity to represent Malaysia.

“They have a dream that dodgeball will be on the Olympic stage in 2036, and if we keep up the momentum of other sports, we might be able to bring Malaysia its first Olympic gold medal,” he said.

Asked about Malaysia’s strengths in the sport, Radha Krishnan said: “We have agility and speed, not size.”

Dodgeball is a fast-paced team game of physical skill and strategy in which players try to avoid catch balls thrown by their opponents while also attacking them in the same way.

grassroots people

Radha Krishnan with MDF Chairman Nojieka Faisal (left) and MAD Advisor Ramona Yuen (right). They are both working with him to take dodgeball to a higher level. (Photo by Radha Krishnan)

When Radha Krishnan stepped down as vice president of the Malaysian Hockey Federation in 2019, MAD founder Ramona Yuen approached him to help grow dodgeball.

Although the entrepreneur knew nothing about dodgeball, he was well known for the growth of sports and outdoor activities such as archery and lawn bowls.

He was elected MAD president at a time when there were only two state associations. Currently, all 13 states and three Union Territories are active members.

Radha Krishnan did not have to start from scratch as the game was already being played in private universities and clubs in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur under Ramona’s leadership.

However, before he could formulate a strategy to develop the sport, he had to settle MAD’s debt of RM100,000 with his own money to put MAD in a healthy financial position.

To gain recognition and acceptance, MAD needed to have a healthy development program, talented athletes, and host international events.

The dodgeball world record was set at the Asia-Pacific Invitational Tournament held in Shah Alam, Selangor in June last year, with 1,100 players from 140 domestic and international clubs participating.

After the event, Radha Krishnan successfully organized the first Asian Dodgeball Championship in Singapore, where Malaysia won five gold medals. India is bidding for the second edition next year.

While preparations for the international tournament are underway, Radha Krishnan said the domestic league, which will involve states and 50 clubs, will be the hunting ground for talent.

Asked about the sport attracting minimal sponsorship, he said: “The Ministry of Youth and Sports does not classify it as an important sport and it does not receive television coverage.”

He said MAD needs RM500,000 this year to run the program and send teams to overseas competitions.

For the 2022 World Championships to be held in Edmonton, Canada, 50% of the cost will be raised through a crowdfunding campaign organized by the athletes themselves, with the Better Malaysia Foundation donating RM50,000.

Radha Krishnan appealed to the Ministry of Youth and Sports not to neglect small-scale sports.

“Please don’t treat us any differently because we are doing our best to bring glory to our country and give Malaysia pride in the world of sports,” he said.

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