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6 weird and wonderful local sports you never knew existed | Insight Guides Blog

6 weird and wonderful local sports you never knew existed

Football fever has hit the country, but it's not to everyone's taste. With this in mind, we've taken a look at some of the strangest local sports from around the world
Playing sepak takraw. Photo: Shutterstock
Playing sepak takraw. Photo: Shutterstock

With Euro 2016 due to start this week, football mania is currently gripping the country. The most divisive sport in the UK, football is both adored and loathed by the nation’s inhabitants. The long-suffering public has been waiting since 1966 for the national team to deliver a trophy, longer than many fans have been alive. For those of you who don’t – and indeed for those who do – like football, don’t despair: there’s much more to sport than just football, as this list of local sports from around the world proves, ranging from the bizarre to the downright dangerous:


1. Cheese rolling, UK

We’ll start close to home. The world's largest cheese-rolling event, Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, is held annually on the spring bank holiday in Gloucestershire. As the name implies, contestants are required to roll a wheel of cheese – specifically Double Gloucester at this particular event – down a rather steep hill. Each wheel of cheese is painted in bright colours: to win, you must follow your rolling wheel of cheese down the hill – stumbling, slipping and sliding – collect it, and cross the finish line first. Sounds easy, right?

Cheese Master. Photo: Wikimedia Commons under  GNU  Free Documentation License

Cheese Master. Photo: Wikimedia Commons under  GNU  Free Documentation License

2. Sepak takraw, South East Asia

Perhaps the easiest way to describe sepak takraw is to imagine playing volleyball, only with the notable handicap of not being able to touch the ball with your hands or arms. Apparently invented by the Malaysian royal family in the 15th century, the game is popular all over South East Asia today, especially in Malaysia and Thailand. It goes without saying that jumping around a volleyball court like fish out of water is fairly dangerous. It’s great fun to watch though. 

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3. Tuna tossing, Australia

Yep, that’s right. Tuna tossing. Every year, contestants descend on the Tunarama Festival in Port Lincoln, Australia, to, well, to throw frozen tuna of course, why else?

To enter, you must be aged 16 or over and there is AU$3,000 up for grabs. The tuna weighs 10kg. Entrants are invited to throw the tuna using any method, and that’s it! Shot put, hammer throw and discus are all popular methods that have been adapted over the years. The current record stands at a stunning 37.23 metres. Are you up to the challenge?

4. Camel racing, United Arab Emirates

The Middle East’s answer to horse racing, camel racing is a hugely popular sport, especially in the United Arab Emirates. As with prestigious races in the UK, camel racing is the place to be seen. The season typically runs from October to April, and takes place in the desert. Up to 70 camels take place in a single race but the one notable difference to horse racing is that gambling is strictly forbidden.

Read more about camel racing in the UAE here

Camel races in UAE. Photo: ShutterstockPhoto: Shutterstock

5. Bo-Taoshi, Japan

Bi-taoshi is a Japanese version of the popular game capture the flag. To play, 2 teams of 150 people, split into 75 attackers and 75 defenders, are required. The game differs from capture the flag in that there is no flag involved. Instead, there is a large wooden pole that the defending 75 members of each team must set up and protect. There are numerous defensive positions that can be taken up; many of which involve forming a human shield around the pole. To win, one team’s attacking faction must lower the opposing team’s pole to at least a 30-degree angle to the floor. The rules were changed 1973 to make the game more competitive; a 45-degree angle was all that was previously required to win.

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Bo-Taoshi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/public domeinPhoto: Wikimedia Commons/public domain

6. Wife carrying, Finland

Similar to tuna tossing in that there is absolutely no room for ambiguity in the name, wife carrying is a popular pastime in Finland. Men must negotiate a tough obstacle course whilst carrying their wives on their back. There is an annual competition held at Sonkajärvi, where the winners are rewarded with their wife’s bodyweight in beer!


Intrigued? Inspired?

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