Myanmar with over 52 Millions population, citizen of age under 35 are more than 36% of the population. Un-employement rate is around less than 3%, but average income is less than 1300 USD per year. By average, a person earns 100 USD per month only. In terms of the skill and capacity, these are still one of the lowest among the ASEAN countries. Education is still undergoing of changes. Despite the dawn of the economic, Myanmar people are still optimistic about the future. With religious beliefs and living in narrow environment, people do not usually have aim high. More than 70% of youth does not care about politic. It creates a risk future for the Myanmar to survive in competing world with lots of changes. With hard-to-solve issue of Ethics-Burmese peace negotiation, Myanmar future is unseen. However, following the global trends and technology, capital cities such as Yangon and Mandalay do not leave behind. Yangon has mixed of youths which focus on different professionalism. Every youth has dream and want to achieve. But how to achieve the dream is still very doubtful for you. Youths find something as a relaxation and enjoy life. Some go bar. Some go EDM DJ festivals. Some do sport activities. Some do all in different time. However, one of the unsolvable issue is drugs in youth. There is no definite fact to proof but 5 out of 10 youths are either using drugs or know the connection to buy drugs. A youth either in Yangon or other cities know where to buy drugs or how to get connection with drug small agents. As Yangon and Mandalay has strong law enforcement, there seem not too much drug related crime happening. But in regions like Shan, Kachin, Kayin and Mon, drug usage in youth population is very bold. Even 8 out of 10 youths have already became slaves drugs.
This is not the first world problem by comparing with other countries. Even some European countries are also facing drug issues in young citizens. Speaking about drugs, it is not just only illegal drugs. Smoking cigarette and drinking alcohol are also serious issue in those countries. Myanmar is also one of the top countries in regions which consume cigarettes and alcohol. Literacy among population is over 75%. But basic health knowledge literacy of the population is less than 5%. Healthy life is composed of three factors – lifestyle, food & sport. Sport is one lacking item in Myanmar. It is a good sign that many marathon events are now happening across Myanmar. There are YOMA Marathon, Pocari Sweat Run, Began Temple Run Marathon, 100 Plus Active Run and many more. I am really glad to see for such kind of sport events rising up in Myanmar.
There are mountain bike groups, fixed gear bike groups and BMX bike groups, all of which are having total 20K members on Facebook. Majority of those members lives in Yangon. There are yearly bicycle racing event in Myanmar held by Sport Ministry. Yearly group bike riding activities are now happening in Yangon and Mandalay. Even government officials of Yangon region is now supporting the bike community by participating in the activities. I have read a news recently on Frontier that bicycle market in Yangon is now growing rapidly with increasing sale. Riding bicycle is not only good for individual health but also is good for reducing heavy traffic in Yangon. I have no doubt that Yangon government will totally look for rooms to improve bicycle rider community in Yangon. However, other cities in Myanmar are now already occupied by Motor cycles. In terms of the traffic size, it is tiny but bicycle riding culture is steadily vanishing. Mandalay is used to be famous and called for bicycle cities. But now it is a motor cycle city. However, Mandalay bicycle rider community is still the same size with Yangon. Yearly mountain bike races are also still happening in Mandalay.
One of the cheapest and easiest sport activities to do in Myanmar is running. Having marathon and running events are good signs for this sport. Over 10K of of population participate in running races happening in Myanmar yearly. That 10K is very tiny part of the population. But those who run just for health nearby living areas s are growing steadily. Despite polluted Yangon air is not good for runners, Big parks are now places for runners and morning exercise doers. FMCG companies such as Pocari Sweat and 100 Plus are also playing important role for improving Myanmar citizens’ health. I believe all those good deeds will pay back to their business either by in terms of sale improvement and brand-love.
Myanmar has very small swimmer community. National Swimming Pool and Yangon University Swimming Pool are only two swimming pool where professional-to-be young swimmers are practicing. There are less than 10 public swimming pool in Yangon. It makes youths in Yangon hard to learn swimming and to have swimming habit. Swimming is still one of the luxury thing for Myanmar. Other regions have almost no public swimming pool. People go to beach for playing in water but those are just for fun. There is no actual swimming to either to practice professionally or do for health.
There is no doubt that football is one of the most played sport in Myanmar. Futsal football fields are now a trend and ever growing business as demand is too high. There are already about 30 futsal football fields in Yangon but youths still look for more. In Shan State, AYA Bank offer loan to those who want to create fugal football field. AYA Bank chairman is U Zaw Zaw, head of Myanmar Football Federation. Therefore he also try to support the country to have more talent emerging. Myanmar loves football in both terms of watching and playing. Myanmar is strong supporter to Myanmar national football team. Most Myanmar citizen are Man-U Fan of England. Football is a man sport in Myanmar.
Body fitness training and body building
In many cities in Myanmar, signing up for gym and doing body fitness are nowadays big trend. Every 2 of 10 youth go to gym in Yangon. However body fitness athletes and armatures communities are also needed to grow more than the current situation. There are more than 100 gyms in Yangon and over 10K people are actively spending time in gym weekly. Gyms are used to be luxury sport but today as china gym materials and accessories are imported easily, playing gym is now affordable to many today. Overweight population is steadily increasing in youths in Myanmar. Spending time in gym by exercising is one of the good solution for those who need to do weigh loss. Body builder competition and body fitness related competition are now happening in Yangon and Mandalay mainly. However, professional athletes are still few.
Tennis, Golf, Basket ball, Table tennis, Mixed martial arts and many other sport activities are now steadily being adapted. Community is growing.
Solution to improve youth life in Myanmar
However, majority of all those activities are happening only in main cities. Other regions do not have much. Urban and rural regions are not having access yet to sport community or venues. Not so many businessmen are seeing this as an opportunity as well to start business. Therefore drug issues in youths will always be an issue. The reason why this article is talking about sport is that doing sport activities is alternative relaxation not to think about drug. Youths has nothing to do. Youths do not have future. Youths do not have motivation for life. Youths do not have place to release their stress. Therefore alcohol, smoke and drugs are becoming their accompanies for enjoying life.
If businesses see this as an opportunity and do sport related venues and places, this is totally one of the way to succeed. This can be a social entrepreneurial business which contribute the country. If Myanmar people are natured with doing sport activities, health development will become progressive. Workforce’s productivity will increase and then drug issue will be solved steadily. Government should also incubate startups and small business who want to start gym, running communities and race, bike shops, football fields and swimming pools. Beside giving permit to open alcohol bar and held music festivals, there should be permit and support to sport related in situations as well. Education is key factor to change the country. For today, sport will be one of the remedy to cure the youths and develop them.
Author: Aung Kham