Games People Play: Arab Sports Vocabulary


Games People Play: Arab Sports Vocabulary

No matter where you travel in the world, you’ll find people that love playing riyaaDa (sports), and this is also especially true of Arabs. Whether it’s individual sports like ملاكمة / mulaakamah (boxing) or team sports like كرة القدم الامريكية / kurat alqadam al’amreekiyah (rugby), you’re sure to find an Arab audience for it.

Without a doubt, however, the most popular sport in the Arab world is كرة القدم / kurat alqadam  In fact, it is the closest thing every country in the Middle East has to a national sport, and if you really want to experience this  رياضة تعتمد على المتفرجين riyaadhah t’atamid  ’alaa almutafarijeen (spectator sport) at the local ملعب / mal’ab (stadium) with a couple of other friends who are مشجعين رياضيين / mushaj’een riyaadhiyeen (sports fans), you’re going to have to learn a little about the مباراة / mubaaraah (game). So, هيا بنا نلعب كرة القدم / hayyaa binaa ‘ilaa mal’ab kurat alqadam (Let’s go to the soccer field)!

So how does it work?

Typically, in a  مباراة كرة القدم / mubaaraat kurat alqadam (football match), each الفريق / alfareeq has 11 players and plays against another fareeq with the same amount of players. Fans of each fareeq follow the نتيجة / nateejah (score) closely, hoping that their fareeq manages to kick the كرة / kurah (ball) in the net to score a هدف / hadaf (goal) and give their fariiq the فاز / faaz (win). Fans can get rather emotional and react to every خطأ / khata’ (foul) that the حكم / hakam (referee) calls, especially if it cost their favorite fareeq a خسارة / khasaarah (loss).

So, how do you pick a favorite fariiq? Well, some people choose a team simply based on the الألوان / al’ alwaan (colors) of the fareeq’s  فريق / malaabis riyaadhiyyah (uniforms), while others may choose their favorite لاعب / laa’ib (player) (or لاعبة / laa’ibah if it happens to be a female soccer match that is being played).

kurat alqadam is only one of many sports popular in countries with native speakers of the Arabic language. You might have friends who enjoy سباحة / sibaaha (swimming). Other sports can include:

horseback riding / furoosiyyah / فروسية
volleyball / al
kurat attaa’irah/  الكرة الطائرة
basketball / 
kurat assallah / كرة سلة
tennis / 
kurat almidhrab / كرة المضرب
gymnastics / 
jumbaaz / جمباز
ghulf /
alghulf / الجولف

Going to the الجمباز / aljumbaaz (gym) and practicing الفنون القتالية المختلطة / alfunoon alqitaaliyah almukhtalatah (mixed martial arts) are also growing very popular in the Middle East.
One of the most commonly used verbs when talking about sports is لعب / la’iba (play), so it’s important to know how to conjugate the verb in both the ماضي / maadhi  (the past tense) and the مضارع / mudhaari’  (both the present and future tenses) when you speak Arabic, especially when talking about sports and recreation.

Please keep in mind that we will illustrate its use in the maadhi in this articleand we will show you its use in the mudhaari’  in a future article on music.

So, here’s the verb la’iba in its maadhi form:

I playedأَنا لَعِبْتُanaa la’ibtu
You played (masculine singular)أَنْتَ لَعِبْتَanta la’ibta
You played (feminine singular)أَنْتِ لَعِبْتِanti la’ibti
He playedهُوَ لَعِبَhuwa la’iba
She playedهِيَ لَعِبَتْhiya la’ibat
We playedنَحْنُ لَعِبْناnahnu la’ibnaa
You played (masculine plural)أَنْتُمْ لَعِبْتُمْantum la’ibtum
You played (feminine plural)أَنْتُنَّ لَعِبْتُنَّantunna la’ibtunna
They played (masculine plural)هُمْ لَعِبواhum la’iboo
They played (feminine plural)هُنَّ لَعِبْنَّhunna la’ibnaa
You played (mixed masculine/ feminine plural)أَنْتُما لَعِبْتُماantumaa la’ibtumaa
They played (dual/ masculine plural)هُما لَعِباhumaa la’ibaa
They played (dual/ feminine plural)هُما لَعِبَتاhumaa la’ibataa

Now that you’re ready to be a team player, go out there and enjoy some Arabic sports with your friends!
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