When thinking about taking up a new sport, we tend to go to the classics, the ones we’re more familiar with. Tennis, swimming and running are quite popular solo sports, while soccer, rugby, and hockey are popular team sports. There are, however, lesser-known sports around the world. Many of them bear some resemblance to the sports we know and love, while some are entirely unique, and rarely played outside of their country of origin.
Cricket and baseball fans may try to find some similarities with ‘hornussen’, but this unique Swiss game is like no other bat-and-ball game. There are two teams, each with 16-20 players who take turns hitting the ball at each other. Each team must try to protect the ball from landing in their zone. Another bat-and-ball sport that has been around since 1370 in Romania is ‘oina’. There’s a complicated set of rules, including the pitcher throwing the ball to the batter, who is also on his team. Another rule also involves players using the ball to hit another player.
Founded in Norway, ‘skijoring’ is a sport where horses, dogs, or vehicles pull skiers through a snowy course in the fastest time possible. This sport was initially invented as a mode of transportation. Another sport that was born out of practicality, is ‘fierljeppen’ in the Netherlands. Here, competitors use a pole to vault across canals and streams, or simply to jump as far as possible along the bank on the other side.
‘Fives’ is quite popular among the elite boarding schools in the U.K. It is essentially a British variation of handball, where players swat a rubber ball with a gloved hand. This sport was developed in the late 1800s at Eton College, but has since seeped down into the middle classes, and is becoming more common in the state school system. It might be worth having a look to see if anyone in your area has a unique sport that you can learn to play.