Here in the states, we think that we have sports more or less figured out. You can’t get away from Football from high school onwards, baseball starts even earlier, and the NHL appears on millions of screens all winter long. While I love all these games, if you dig a little you find that our passion for sports has got us living in a bubble! Here are three sports from around the world which you’ve never heard of…
Don’t worry, no one’s expecting you to commit that name to memory straight away! Despite looking pretty contemporary, this sport dates back to the 15th century, and originated in southeast Asia. The best way to describe it to a westerner is probably “kick volleyball”. Modern games use a volleyball net, though positioned slightly lower, and a ball made of rattan. Like soccer, players are only allowed to use their feet, knees, head and chest to touch the ball. It’s played by teams of three, and the aim is to score points by getting it to fall on the other side of the court. If you think it sounds as easy as volleyball, check out a few videos from the professional leagues!
Generally, you have to go to another continent to find a sport you haven’t heard of. However, disc golf is one that originated in our own backyard, first regulated in Saskatchewan, Canada. Formalized in the 70s in the wake of the Frisbee craze, this sport is more or less exactly as it sounds. You play with a flying disc (known as a “roc”), and the aim is to sink it in a steel basket in the lowest possible number of throws. While there are designated disc golf courses scattered throughout North America, they’re nowhere near as tame as a normal golf course, and the trees, changes in terrain and so on are treated as part of the game. Though many people have no idea this sport exists, it has a massive following, with blogs dedicated to finding clubs, courses, rocs, and even the perfect bag for playing disc golf!
This is a bat and ball game invented (surprisingly) in Denmark. It’s played a lot by the Air Training Corps, as well as the British and Australian navies. Like in baseball and cricket, there are two teams, which take turns to bat or field. The batting field is divided into two parts, known as the square and simply “outside the square”. Fielders are spread out in both sections, and it’s the batter’s aim to hit the ball to the farthest edge the square, without it actually leaving. It has to hit the ground at least once before bouncing or rolling outside the square. The batter then needs to spring to the other side of the square to a “safe zone”. Like a base in baseball, they get to rest there for a while, but only score a point for their team once they make it back to the original side of the square without being caught out.