The UK is going to be football crazy, football mad in the next few weeks, but did you know that the beautiful game isn’t the only form of football enjoyed by fans across the world? There are 11 alternative versions of football that may have completely passed you by.
Developed in Argentina, where it is also known as ‘padbol’, soccer tennis is a unique fusion sport combining, you guessed it, football and tennis! The ball is passed over a net using a combination of players’ feet, head, chest and legs. In fact, pretty much your whole body can be used in this amazing version of football!
Human table football
What could be more exciting than a fast-paced game of table football? Why, a game of human table football, of course. This alternative version of football does exactly what it says on the tin; replacing traditional plastic players with you and your loved ones. Velcro yourself onto the rope in an inflatable pitch and see if you can ‘kick it’.
A European creation, Footgolf is about precision. Seasoned golfers will be pleased to know that this alternative version of football is played in just the same way, but with additional fun involved. Your foot is the club, the hole is your goal and the game is certainly challenging. Everything might be supersized, but that doesn’t guarantee a hole-in-one!
Pop on a helmet fitted with a pair of back-to-front binoculars, and away you go! The rules are exactly the same as in a regular football game, but with one major obstacle: your eyewear. While some games require actual binoculars, others involve a more wearable pair of goggles. Not that this will make proceedings any easier. Prepare to see the ball bouncing towards you from either ten times closer, or ten times further away!
Not only fast-paced but perfect for rainy days, futsal is a variation on football that’s grown in popularity across the world. Invented by the Spanish and played indoors, it involves a ball with considerably less bounce than you might be used to. The main difference between the two games, however, lies in players’ freedom to get creative on the pitch. Futsal’s emphasis lies on improvisation, with creative play valued above a focus on physical contact. Who knows what kind of fancy footwork you could end up pulling?
What do you get when you cross football with volleyball? A Southeast Asian super sport! Sepak takraw is thought to date back to the 15th century and incorporates a woven ball made of rattan. And that isn’t the only thing that makes this game so exciting – players are allowed to use their feet, knees, chest and head. But with the game played on a badminton-sized court, over the top of a net, will this freedom be more of a help or a hindrance?
You could argue that freestyle football is less of a game and more a case of performance, but in our book, that’s still an alternative version of football. Plus, it’s just too much fun not to include! The world of freestyle football has grown to include competitions and characteristic lingo, from the classic ‘keepie-uppie’ to ‘lowers’, ‘uppers’ and ‘sit downs’.
It may also be known as ‘bubble football’, but zorb football is far from genteel. This action-packed Norwegian game is less about your skills on the pitch and more about good old fashioned fun. When you’re sending one another flying as you battle to get to the ball first, you’ll be laughing too much to be concerned about scores.
Kickball originated in America, and is just as much a twist on rounders as it is on football. The aim of the game is for players to kick the rubber ball as hard as they can. Then all that’s left to do is run! Lap the bases and get back to your starting point before the competition manages to get you ‘out’ with the ball. The kids will love sprinting around the pitch, and it’s a great way to tire them out before teatime!
Now, this is where the real challenge begins. Of all the alternative versions of football, footbag net is one of the most difficult. After all, you’re only allowed to use your feet! That means any contact above the knee is considered a foul. With youthful agility on their side, your youngsters may very well have the advantage in this game, as you need to kick the pint-sized footbag over a net to score.
Headis is a truly bonkers football hybrid. Combine ping pong and football, and you’ve just about got it, though the bats have been replaced with your own head! Luckily, the ball you’ll be heading is a seven inch rubber ball rather than a solid, oversized ping pong ball. The game is thought to have originated in Germany, and even has its own tournament.
How will you be celebrating the Euros? Why not sign your budding champions up to our Football Academy at Haven parks like Devon Cliffs and Marton Mere, or get the whole family together for a kick-about on the sports field at Lakeland? You may even get to practice one of these weird and wonderful football variations! Which is your favourite?