Five strange sports from around the world

You have to see them to believe them.

Matthaeus Choo
Matthaeus Choo

Published: 12 November 2021, 1:51 PM

The Olympics and UEFA EURO 2020 weren’t the only major sports events of 2021 that have moved the world. Last month, gladiators from 32 countries gathered in Barcelona to compete for glory in the inaugural edition of the Balloon World Cup. 

The rules are deceivingly simple: two competitors will try to keep a balloon afloat and when one of them allows it to touch the ground, their opponent gains a point.

The event received over eight million views on Twitch, with over 600,000 viewers tuning in for the grand final. Peru would eventually triumph over Germany 6 – 2 to bring home bragging rights and the grand prize of 10,000 Euros (S$15,000). 

Who knew playing with balloons can earn you a windfall? 

The Balloon World Cup is far from the only strange sport in the world (well, to this region at least). Here are five other bizarre sports you never thought existed. 

Marble Racing

Well, nobody ever said humans were the only ones who could compete for sporting gold. Although marble racing, hosted by YouTube channel Jelle’s Marble Runs, has been around since 2006 and started gaining a dedicated fan base around 2015, it wasn’t until the pandemic, with leagues and events postponed, that the sport took off. Fascinatingly enough, fandoms have sprung up to show support for their marbles and teams since then.

Marble racing has captured the attention of so many not just for the countless nail-biting finishes, but also for the imaginative courses the competitors have to race through — from traditional sprint races to elaborate downhill derbies. It’s a strangely zen sport too with the comforting sounds of marbles clacking against each other accompanied by soothing commentary.

Competitive catching

We probably know a few friends from our school days who will excel in this competitive sport. Since 2011, the World Chase Tag competition has looked to determine the world’s best catching experts. Instead of the HDB blocks and school classrooms we are all familiar with, competitors put their parkour skills to the test in special arenas. 

Although several leagues have sprung up over the years, the World Chase Tag has emerged as the most popular. It’s not a niche sport either, with events being broadcasted over both streaming and national television. 

Extreme ironing

Bringing new meaning to ironman competitions, extreme ironing may be the one sports career that our Asian mothers may be alright with pursuing. The objectives are relatively straightforward and surprisingly relaxing. Using only regulation-sized equipment (no plastic irons), competitors will have to iron their laundry in extreme situations, such as while surfing or skydiving. 

The first Extreme Ironing World Championships saw participants keeping their clothes wrinkle-free while standing in a fast-flowing river and while rock climbing. It’s a bonafide sport that puts to the test multi-tasking skill, creativity, tenacity and ability to present clothes perfect for scoring job interviews. Recent competitions were postponed due to the pandemic. Hopefully, it will make its return soon. 

Dog surfing

By far the coolest sport on this list, dog surfing competitions will leave you questioning if your pet truly deserves treats (they do!). These competitions see dogs take to the waves either alone or with their owners. Points are awarded based on technique, length of the ride, and style — but every participant is a clear winner. 

Although it’s definitely not a sport that we will see in Singapore any time soon, there are – thankfully – hundreds of videos online of the events we can watch with our pets.

Tuk Tuk Polo

Traditionally the sport of kings and the elite, enterprising and innovative Sri Lankans have reclaimed polo as the sport of the every man — with a unique twist. Instead of horses, competitors take to the field with Tuk Tuks. The rules are similar to traditional polo, but cooperation and coordination are further emphasised with each vehicle being manned by a driver and a player. 

Tuk Tuk polo matches never fail to be intense competitions. Players have to direct drivers while keeping their eye on focus on the ball, often having to lean out of the vehicle without any seatbelts. 

Nevertheless, it’s still relatively safer than when polo was played with elephants in Sri Lanka, which Tuk Tuk polo looked to replace. 

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