The National Sport of Marshall Islands

August 25, 2023

The Marshall Islands, located in the central Pacific Ocean, is a collection of coral atolls and islets known for its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and unique traditions. One of the most intriguing aspects of their culture is their national sport, which holds a significant place in the lives of Marshall Islanders.

Introduction to the National Sport

The national sport of Marshall Islands is called "Lamat," which translates to "stick game." It is a traditional team sport played with a focus on precision, strategy, and coordination. Lamat has been an integral part of Marshallese culture for centuries, serving not only as a form of entertainment but also as a means to develop physical strength and enhance community bonding.

Origins and History

The origins of Lamat can be traced back several centuries. It is believed to have been introduced by early settlers who migrated to the Marshall Islands. Over time, the game evolved and became intertwined with the cultural fabric of the communities. Lamat was traditionally played during important gatherings, celebrations, and even as a method of resolving disputes between clans.

Rules and Gameplay

Lamat requires two teams, each consisting of seven or more players. The game is played in an oval-shaped field with a central line dividing it into two halves. The objective is to score points by hitting a cylindrical object, known as the "buwi," with a long stick, called a "rebwut."

The teams take turns throwing and defending the buwi, aiming to hit it across the opposing team's goal line. The defending team tries to catch or intercept the buwi to prevent the opposing team from scoring. The players maneuver around the field, showcasing their agility and skills while following strict rules.

Cultural Significance

Lamat is more than just a recreational activity for the people of Marshall Islands. It holds immense cultural significance and serves as a way to pass down traditional values, customs, and stories from one generation to another. Through the sport, the Marshallese people connect with their ancestral roots and preserve their rich heritage.

Lamat also fosters a sense of unity and camaraderie among community members. The game encourages teamwork, cooperation, and communication, instilling important social values within the players. It is not uncommon to witness entire communities coming together to watch and support their local Lamat teams during tournaments and competitions.

Preserving and Promoting Lamat

Although Lamat has deep historical roots, its popularity faced challenges in recent decades due to modernization and the introduction of other sports. However, efforts have been made to preserve and promote the game as an essential part of Marshall Islands' cultural identity.

Local organizations, schools, and governmental institutions have taken initiatives to teach Lamat in schools, organize competitions, and establish clubs to encourage youth participation. These initiatives aim to ensure that future generations continue to embrace and cherish this unique sport, passing it down as a cherished tradition.


The national sport of Marshall Islands, Lamat, stands as a testament to the cultural heritage and communal spirit of its people. This traditional game not only entertains but also connects Marshallese individuals and communities, fostering deep-rooted values of unity, teamwork, and respect. By preserving and promoting Lamat, Marshall Islanders ensure that their rich cultural legacy continues to thrive for generations to come.

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