Unique Sports: Part 2!

Written by: Justin

Edited by: Keitaro

Visuals by: Anushka 

Have you ever heard of Sepak Takraw, Cheese Rolling, or Shin Kicking? Well these are some of the world’s most wacky sports. This week, as a second part of our series Unique Sports, we feature 3 more of these less known sports.

Sepak Takraw

Sepak Takraw, or kick volleyball, is a sport native to Southeast Asia. Sepak means kick in Malay, and takraw is the Thai word for the rattan ball used. As the name implies, the concept of the game is kicking a rattan ball. Sepak Takraw matches consist of 2 teams of 3 players who can only use their feet, knees, and head to touch the ball. The rules are very similar to volleyball in that the objective is to prevent the rattan ball from touching the ground. Teams can only touch the ball 3 times per turn and they must get the ball over the net after the third hit. The match is a best of 3 sets, with each being first to 21 points.

Sepak Takraw has been recognized as a sport in the Asian Games since 1990 with Thailand winning the most gold medals for the sport. The sport’s governing body is the International Sepak Takraw Federation (ISTAF) and holds yearly major competitions such as the ISTAF SuperSeries, the ISTAF World Cup and the King’s Cup World Championships International Sepa.

Kicking a ball over a net may not sound difficult, but Sepak Takraw requires quality coordination, reaction time, muscle strength and muscle endurance. This actually makes it a widely used training exercise for footballers.

Cheese Rolling

Cheese Rolling is an annual event that takes place in Cooper’s Hill, England. It is comprised of competitors chasing a cheese wheel down a 200 yard hill, with the first person reaching the finish line winning the cheese wheel as a prize. Originally, the objective was to catch the rolling cheese wheel. However, since the wheel’s momentum can cause the cheese to reach up to speeds of 70 miles per hour, the competitors were unable to keep up with the wheel. 

Cheese rolling can be a very dangerous sport. In fact, in 2013, they had to replace the cheese wheel to a foam replica because the speed of the cheese wheel could easily hurt participants and spectators. Additionally, due to the steepness and uneven surface of Cooper’s Hill, it is not difficult  to lose balance and get injured. To address this problem, a first aid service waits at the bottom of the hill and members of the local rugby club volunteer their services by acting as ‘catchers’ for any participants who require first aid and fail to reach the bottom.

Shin Kicking

Shin-kicking is a combat sport that involves  2 contestants kicking each other in the shin to force their opponent to the ground or to surrender. Combatants face each other and hold the other’s collar, and attempt to strike their opponents shin with the inside of their foot. This event requires both agility, the ability to endure pain and of course, a strong shin.

Shin-kicking originated in England in the 17th century and was a very popular event at the Cotswold Olimpick Games (which ended in the 1850s). In modern competitions, such as the World Shin-kicking Championships, the combatants are required to  stuff their trousers with straw for padding and wear soft shoes.

The aforementioned activities are another set of non-mainstream sports that are starting to gain mainstream attention as people look for more interesting competitive activities. With lockdowns easing globally and the return of sports, we can expect more and more people to explore and learn more about these unique sports.