We all are sports enthusiasts, some play and some just watch or at least know someone who has that one jersey to support their favourite player on the match night.
“Hey, wanna go play teqball?” [Wait, what is that?]
“Nevermind. I just bought a peteca, wanna go to the park and try it?” [I’ve never heard about a pe- peteka?]
But there are many sports like these around the world still unheard of due to various reasons. Some are too passé compared to the now popular games, proper recognition evades some, whereas some lack popularity as they haven’t gained much attention yet, but I’ll make sure you know at least some of these.
Here are seven of all those off-centre and wacky sports still played and some might even interest you, time to turn on your X Games mode:
- Extreme Ironing (EI)
This first one is for the thrill-seekers. Being an ‘extreme ironer’ means going to ‘extreme’ lengths to wear that crisp ironed shirt on Monday morning; maybe while bungee jumping, snowboarding, racing, diving or rock climbing, basically everywhere but comfortably at your own house.
It all started in 1980 when Tony Haim from England saw his brother-in-law, John Slater, ironing his clothes even in a tent while camping.
The world records for EI at the highest altitude as well as for most people doing it underwater (173 divers from the Netherlands in 2011) already exist. Next time when mountains call, carry an iron and clothes too.
- Sepak Takraw
Sepak Takraw aka kick volleyball is a much-played sport coming from the Southeast Asian countries; also familiar as sepak raga in Malay, chinlone in Myanmar, cau may Iin in Vietnam, sipa in the Philippines, and ka-taw in Lao. It is played with a rattan ball or a synthetic rubber ball over a net by players using any body part but their arms and hands.
The sport is said to have been introduced by the Chinese and dates back to being played as early as the early 15th century in Malaysia.
Various games and championships are still regularly held with many countries participating including India.
For all the Potterheads out there, here’s your sport- sans the flying and magic. Teams have seven players- three chasers, two beaters, one keeper and one seeker. Quidditch requires a mixed-gender team.
A team wins by scoring more than its opponent team. There are three types of balls used in the game. Bludgers (two) are thrown at members of the opponent team by the beaters to disrupt them and prevent goals. A Quaffle (deflated volleyball) goal means 10 points and the Golden Snitch fetches 30 points- all while riding and hopping on a broomstick. Even European and Asian Cups are held for this “fiction-turned-reality” sport.
The good thing is all you ‘muggles’ reading this can play quidditch unlike in JK Rowling’s world.
- Yubi Lakpi
Yubi Lakpi or the game of coconut snatching is our very own indigenous game from the state of Manipur. The sport has a mythological string attached to it- it enacts the Team God vs Team Evil nectar-pot-snatching saga from our Puranas.
It is a seven-a-side game of two teams played by men barefoot and only wearing shorts or langots. They smear themselves and the coconut with oil so tackling others isn’t that easy. Even though it’s a team sport, the person who manages to carry the coconut most number of times across the goal line, wins.
- Toe Wrestling
We bet you’ve toe-tally not heard about this one. If you think you’ve got stronger toes than arms, this is your chance to shine. It was created by four drinkers from the UK in 1974 and one of them, Mick Dawson became the first world champion in 1975. Two players face each other ‘toe-to-toe’ barefoot- trying to pin the opponent’s foot down. All I can say is this looks like a fun toe-rnament even though it has resulted in bruised and broken toes at times.
Fun fact: Alan “Nasty” Nash is the reigning champion holding 16 titles!
Bo-taoshi from Japan translates to ‘bring the pole down’. It is played between two teams of 150 players each with equal numbers of attackers and defenders. All the defenders have to keep their team’s pole upright while the attackers from the other team try to topple it down.
It involves a lot of kicks and impacts as the sport is mainly played in the National Defence Academy of Japan where the cadets train like beasts.
- Swamp Soccer
WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY SWAMP? Well, playing soccer. As the name suggests, swamp soccer or swamp football is the sport of football played in swamps and bogs which makes it even more physically challenging.
Jyrki Väänänen aka The Swamp Baron is the man who came up with this sport and the first championship was held in Hyrynsalmi, Finland in 1998. Over the years, the sport has spread across the world and Swamp Soccer tournaments are held in various countries including Germany, Russia, Iceland, Scotland and even India among others.
There are many categories such as- Men’s Competition, Men’s Hobby, Women’s, Mixed and Masters of Swamp (Konkari) in which the team must’ve participated in at least 10 prior games or the players are over 40 years old. A team consists of a goalkeeper and five field players, the number of substitutes is not limited.
Teqball was invented in 2012 in Hungary by György Zoltán and Viktor Huszár. The main element of the sport is the arched table on which a football is smashed- quite similar to table tennis. The players (singles or doubles) can hit the ball with any part of the body but arms and hands. The sport is inching towards its inclusion in the Olympics with much-garnered enthusiasm and participation from athletes over the years.
I’d like to mention my favourite player, Natalia Guitler of Brazil, is one of the top ranked players of teqball.
It originated in early 17th century England. The Cotswold Olimpick Games still hosts the World Shin-kicking Championships religiously every year (except this year due to obvious reasons). All you gotta do is hold your opponent by their collar and bash their shins (between the knee and ankle) till they cry for help. All the years of making your friends trip by kicking their legs can finally come in handy. Be ready to bear the blows you receive too.
The players can no longer wear steel-capped boots in the now defunct version of the game which resulted in serious injuries in earlier times.
This last sport comes from the land of Brazil. It’s played using a peteca (shuttlecock) which is hit using hands over a net and usually played in singles or doubles. The primordial form of the peteca was stone wrapped in leaves and played for fun by the beaches. With time that changed to a sport, the stone changed to leather and now rubber with four feathers.
Fun fact: Indiaca is the European version of peteca.
Author: Sharmistha Dey
Editor: Gurpreet Kaur Bamrah
Visual Content: Anubhav Maharana
Sharmistha is a biotech undergrad studying at Shoolini University. Along with keen interest in biology, she is also fond of technology, history, art and culture. Giving is receiving, and her blogs are aimed at giving you bits of information whenever you read because, in her own words, “brain food is the most important meal”.