Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Worm Charming

worm charming

If you’re a charming individual without a propensity to achieve well in sport and are looking for something to excel in, then perhaps worm charming is the sport (yes that’s right, I said sport) for you. A task usually performed to collect bait for fishing, worm charming is a complex process, which involves many varied techniques and is constantly advancing and revealing new facts about worms and methods in which to bring them to the surface.

 

Worm Charming Competitions

Believe it or not, the World Charming Championships is actually a very serious and fierce competition which brings people from all countries and of all ages to prove who can cause the most worms to wriggle their way from their underground homes out into the open to be counted towards a competitor’s score. One of the first ever worm
charming contests took place in Willaston County Primary School’s fête in 1980. From then on, Willaston became the host of the annual World Worm Charming Championships. There are also a number of other competitions and contests such as the Blackawton International Festival of Worm Charming in Devon, The Great Canadian Worm Charming Championship held in Ontario and Florida’s Worm Gruntin’ Festival.worms

The most impressive display of allure was demonstrated by a ten year old girl in 2009 at the World Championships. Sophie Smith left other competitors out to dry with her accomplishment of enticing a massive 567 worms towards her grasp.

Methods

It is believed that worms are driven from the ground by consistent vibrations, as this emulates the sound and feeling of a digging mole, their natural predator, encroaching on their territory. Thus the most common technique is to plunge a pitch fork, log or cricket stump into the ground and either spin it in your hand as if making a fire or bang it with another item such as a bat. Competitors have also been seen getting creative with their methods by playing a xylophone with bottles or even dancing on top a plank to the Star Wars them song.

Rules worm_charming2

Contestants must find themselves a square grass patch of 3 x 3 metres and after a 5 minute ‘worm up’, they then have 15 minutes to charm the most amount of worms from their square as they can. Each team consists of three members -the charmer, picker and counter. The main guidelines are that digging and forking the ground are strictly forbidden and all worms must be placed back in the ground following the competition. International Judges are also always on the lookout for cheaters who may attempt to add in worms which they brought in their pockets or cutting worms in half to increase their score.

Shin-kicking

shin-kicking

Although many might consider shin-kicking to simply be an action that occurs accidentally on the football field, between scorned women or feisty grade-twoers, for others it is a very serious competitive sport that resembles an English form of martial arts.

History of Shin-Kicking

With origins dating back to 1612, shin-kicking is an age-old pastime that has entertained many a spectator and broken many a leg. The game was originally one of the prominent features of the Cotswold Olimpick Games, held in the small English village of Chipping Camden. This annual fair and competition aimed to honour the ancient Greek Olympic Games and many believe that it was largely responsible for the creation of the modern Olympics.

Throughout the 17th and 18th Centuries, the olimpick shin-kicking sport was popular in England, Wales and parts of America and involved serious and brutal battles between men wearing shepherd coats, who were not afraid to draw blood… and a lot of it. Although some people died from the severity of their shin injuries, this period actually marked the tame era of shin-kicking, which only worsened in intensity over the following century.

During the 1800s, shin-kicking was drowned in overt drunkenness, unnecessary squabble and corrupt forms of game-play. The sport fuelled violence between neighbouring villages and was played between drunken, nude men, who often wore metal-trimmed clogs or metal toe caps to cause even more brutal injuries. Keen competitors would even attempt to harden their shins with coal hammers.

This savageness and indecency meant the sport was abandoned in the early 1850s, only to be resurrected in 2012. The sport was once again played at the 400th Anniversary of Robert Dover’s Cotswold Olimpick Games last year. As well as bringing back the sport, they also revived many strict rules to ensure a fair and clean game.

Rules of the Gameshin-kicking-2

The basic structure of the game involves competitors holding their opponents by their shoulders with straight arms and then swinging at their shins to weaken, unbalance or overthrow them to the ground, whilst retaining their grasp on the opponent’s shoulders.

Competitors usually wear trainers or shoes and long trousers or tracksuit pants, which are allowed to be stuffed with straw for extra padding. Shins must be kicked at least once before a throw is granted (always below the knee) and the thrower must be in the process of a kick with one foot off the ground when they fall, to ensure it is not achieved by an intentional trip. The contest is decided on the best of three rounds, and an arbiter has the final call on all decisions and outcomes.

Toe Wrestling

toe wrestling

Forget the classic classroom favourite of playful thumb wars, because the increasingly popular craze of toe wresting will be sure to (quite literally) knock your socks off.

This outrageous sport is much more than a craze, however, as it has been holding World Championships since way back in 1976. Toe wrestling was born in the UK in a pub called the Royal Oak Inn in Wetton, Derbyshire, apparently out of a desire from British walkers to thrive at a sport.

Much to their disappointment, a Canadian competitor took out the title of the first Toe Wrestling World Champion. Today, the sport draws in competitors from all over the world who not only compete with their toes but also with their nicknames. The competitor’s comedic names range from the ‘Toeminator’ to the ‘Itatoelion Stallion’.

Repeat and most recent World Champion Alan ‘Nasty’ Nash reveals that the sport is not as innocent as it may seem. Over 18 years of toe wrestling competitions, Nash has suffered through a nasty nine broken toes. In 1997, the forerunner broke 4 toes, however after packing them with some ice, he persevered to go on and with the Championships. Nash believes that people in their mid 30s are at the prime toe wrestling age. He says a lot of the newcomers are in their 20s and hail from Australia, Japan and South Korea. Yet apparently these youngens are “easy to beat”.

Toe Wrestling Rules

Wrestlers first take their seat at the ‘Toedium’ on either side of the centre line before interlocking big toes. Upon the words ‘Toes Away’ escaping from the referee’s lips, competitors begin a fierce battle attempting to either force their opponent’s big toe to the ground or force the outer edge of their foot to touch the toesrack. When either of these manoeuvres occurs, the referee will call ‘Toe Down’ and the round is complete.

The first round is conducted using the right foot, the second the left and if a decider is required, the third round goes back to wrestling with the right toe. The unused foot must stay off the ground at all times during the competition and some part of the bottom must always remain on the ground. If the pain becomes too much, competitors are able to surrender by yelling ‘Toe Much’ and toes will unlock immediately.

Iceboating

iceboating

Are you an ardent sailer who’s avoided sailing in Winter or travelling to freezing cold climates in the Northern Hemisphere simply because you wouldn’t be able to pursue your passion on frozen lakes? Or have you tried sailing and were a little underwhelmed by it’s safe, controlled nature and are looking for a more extreme version? If yes, then iceboating would the perfect option for you: an extreme sport, which essentially sailing… on ice.

Iceboating is a popular sport in a number of US states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota and various areas throughout Europe. The idea of iceboats was conceptualised in Europe over 400 years ago and in America about 150 years ago. It was originally used as a means of transporting goods across frozen lakes and for a long time was the only way to travel ‘faster than falling’. Today, however, iceboats are predominantly used for recreational and racing purposes.

The boats are very similar to traditional sail boats in functional design, but with a few key differences: they’re fitted with skis and runners so that it  can glide over ice rather than float on water. They are high-tech craft with aero-dynamic design and low friction, meaning they can travel up to ten times a given wind speed. Most iceboats will set you back between $2,500-$3000, however there is also a range of second-hand options and it is actually a surprisingly easy undertaking to build your own, which can be very safe and fully-functioning.

iceboat

While many iceboaters choose to race the crafts in national and international championships, simply using the sport for recreational use is also a popular option. Most iceboating associations adopt collision risk management strategies, such as creating a uniform direction either directly upwind or downwind and wearing full sailing protection gear to reduce the dangers associated with the sport. The adrenaline rush and thrill of the sport would be difficult to eliminate, however, due to the high velocity travel and the ever-present risk of encountering a flaw in the ice.

 

Street Luge

Street luge

It may look astronautical but luging is basically just going down a hill while lying on a skateboard. As with most great skateboarding innovations, street luge was invented in sunny South California in the early 1970’s.

Starting off as a new form of “downhill skateboarding”, the turning point for the sport was the Signal Hill meet in 1971. The object of the competition was simple: get down the hill as fast as you can. Competitors soon realised that you could cut a lot of air resistance by lying on your board. Though it did make steering quite a bit more difficult. And in those days, safety wasn’t even a consideration. People were going down these slopes in just singlets and flip-flops. Needless to say, there were broken bones and grazes a-plenty.

Equipment

From then, skaters have been customising boards and racing equipment to be safer and more aerodynamic. Gone are the days of long hair and baggy jeans, street lugers nowadays look more like formula one racers than skaters. A standard luging kit includes helmets, gloves, leathers and sometimes even light-weight body armour.

Street luge robocopFuture of street luge: part Iron Man, part skateboard

Some have even gone so far as integrating their board with their suit. This is Jean-Yves Blondeau, aka Rollerman, invented, daredevil and all-round badass. You may have seen some of his stunt clips (there’s one below for your perusal). His suit, also known as Buggy Rollin’, consists of 31 wheels attached to what looks like power armour from Fallout 3. It can reach speeds of up to 95km/h and costs around $4000 on the internet.

Street Luge in Australia

There are a couple functioning street luge organisations in Australia, including Australian Street Luge (and its multiple chapters in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, as well as Ladies of Luge, their female team). Check them out if you’re interested in picking up the sport.

Chess Boxing

King punch: Chess boxing is becoming a worldwide sport.

King punch: Chess boxing is becoming a worldwide sport.

The ultimate combination of brains and brawn, chess boxing is exactly what it sounds like: a game half chess, half boxing. Each round of chess lasts four minutes to every three minutes of boxing, cycling five times, with a total of eleven rounds all up. There’s a one-minute break between each round for the competitors to cool-down or psych-up.

Chris Levy is a chess boxing competitor from London. In an interview with Al Jazeera, he says the hardest part of the game is transitioning from one to the other.

“You’ve been in the ring trying to knock out your opponent, your adrenaline is going, your heart is pumping at 170 beats a minute, and then you have to sit down and really concentrate on a game of chess,” Levy says.

With such an absurd hybrid sport, one can’t help but wonder who came up with this crack-pot idea and why.

Origins of Chess Boxing

chess boxing comic

Comic start

Chess boxing was first conceived by French comic book writer and artist, Enki Bilal. The oddball sport first appeared in his 1992 sci-fi comic, Froid Équateur, which, besides featuring chess boxing, also includes cryogenic sleep, a nuclear apocalypse and flying pyramids. Suddenly the chess boxing part doesn’t sound so weird.

Becoming a real sport

From here, Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh decided to bring this fictional into the real world. Originally planned as a piece of performance art, it became so popular he decided to organise an international competition.The First European Chess Boxing Championship took place in Berlin in 2005 and from there, the rest is history.

Pole dancing for fitness

It's classy because it's in black and white

It’s classy because it’s in black and white

Forget swimming and gymnastics, the Olympic sport to watch in 2016 could well be pole dancing.

Yep, that’s right. Pole dancing is trying to strip off its seedy reputation (so to speak) and has submitted an official bid to be recognised as an Olympic sport.

“These women are incredible athletes. They have such grace and elegance and they absolutely belong in the Olympics,” said Timothy Trautman, CEO of the International Pole Sports Federation, in an interview with BuzzFeed.

A far-cry from its sexualised counterpart, performance pole dancing requires immense strength and coordination. Their routines are often impeccably thought-out and sometimes even imaginative.

Despite this, many believe the cultural resistance against pole dancing will be too robust to overcome, at least for now. U.S. National Pole Dancing Champion Natasha Wang is pessimistic about their Olympic aspirations. “While I support the pole community’s efforts to get pole into the Olympics,” Wang says, “I don’t think the general public is ready for the sport yet on such a mainstream/public scale.”

Regardless of whether it gets into the 2016 Olympics, there’s no doubt that pole dancing, as a sport, is growing in popularity.

A friend of mine, Tran, aged 28, has been pole dancing since October last year.  “I had a lesson for my 22nd birthday and really enjoyed it,” she says, “Last year, I saw an ad for a pole dancing class in my area and thought, ‘Stuff it, I’ll sign up’ and I’ve been going ever since.”

She says it’s improved her upper-body and core strength and that she prefers it to more conventional forms of exercise. “I used to go to the gym but I found the night classes were repetitive and boring,” says Tran, “Pole dancing is a lot more fun and that keeps me motivated.”

So why not? It keeps you fit, it’s interesting and it subverts the patriarchy. Yay feminism!

Muggle Quidditch

Harry Quidditch

Harry is over-joyed about Muggle Quidditch

Wait, what? I thought Quidditch was a fictional sport played in the Harry Potter universe?

Well yes, it was a fictional sport but now fantasy-crazed Muggles have transfigured Quidditch into an organised sport you can play without a flying broom. This is the weird and wonderful world of Muggle Quidditch.

How to Play Muggle Quidditch

Setup and Brooms

The Quidditch pitch is usually a regular sports field and marked out to the size of an indoor soccer field. On both ends, there are three upright hoops which act as goals.

Ok, you say, but will there be flying?

No, the laws of gravity still apply. Unlike the sort of Quidditch played at Hogwarts, the brooms used in Muggle Quidditch can’t fly. They’re there mostly for appearances and to make the game just a little bit more difficult. Players are expected to run, throw and catch with a broom between their legs. If the broom, of any reason, comes out from between their legs, they’ve “dismounted” and must run back to their goals before resuming play.

Here in Australia, competition regulation brooms must have soft ends. This usually means attaching bits of pool noodle on the ends of a stick.

Balls

There are three “balls” in Muggle Quidditch (the reason for the inverted commas will be evident as you read on):

  • Quaffle: there’s only ever one Quaffle on the field at any one time. It’s the goal-scoring ball. Only Chasers and Keepers may touch the Quaffle. A team gets 10 points for every time a Quaffle gets into the opposing team’s hoops. This is usually played using a half-inflated volleyball.
  •  Bludger: there are three bludgers on the field at all times. Only Beaters can touch the Bludger. If anyone besides a Beater touches or is hit by a Bludger, they’re dismounted and must go back to their hoops before they can play again. 
  • Snitch: this is the fun part. In the Harry Potter books, a Snitch was a small gold-coloured ball that flew around. In Muggle Quidditch, this role is played by a person, usually dressed in all gold or yellow, with a ball in a sock hanging out of their pants like an Oz tag. When a Seeker “catches” the Snitch by pulling the sock free from the Snitch’s pants, their team is awarded 30 points and the game is over.
Snitch dodges Seeker

Snitch dodges Seeker

Positions

There are four different positions, each with their own rules and functions:

  • Chaser: the goal-scorer. Each team has three on the field at one time. The chaser’s aim is to get the Quaffle into the hoops. As mentioned, every goal is 10 points.
  • Beater: aims to hit opposing players with a Bludger. Each team has two on the field at all times (this means each team always has one Bludger).
  • Keeper: stands at the goals and stops opposing Chasers from scoring. They can also act as a Chaser and run up and score goals themselves. Each team only has one Keeper.
  • Seeker: aims to catch the Snitch before the opposing Seeker does. Theres’s only one Seeker on each team. A Snitch-catch is 30 points and ends the game. A Seeker should time their Snitch-catch so that they’re winning at the time or at least 20 behind their opponent. This way, a Snitch-catch wins the game for that team.

FIFA Football World Cup

Copa_Mundial_de_la_FIFA_2010

The FIFA World Cup, held every four years in various locations around the world, is football’s (soccer) largest international competition.  It has been awarded every four years since it’s inception in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 due to the world war. Currently, Spain holds the world championship by beating the Netherlands in 2010.

Qualification for the World Cup Finals.

The format of the competition is quite complex, with over two hundred teams around the world fighting to qualify for the finals that are held every four years. The nations are divided into six continental zones called confederations – Africa, Asia, North and Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Oceania and Europe. Each confederation has their own qualifying tournaments, and the number of teams allowed to qualify from each confederation is set by FIFA based on the quality of the teams in each zone. In some cases, qualifying may intersect between two confederations, for example, where the fifth placing team from South America plays the first placing team from Oceania. After the qualification process, 32 teams remain to play in the finals.

In the history of the world cup, only eight different teams have won the competition. Brazil is the leader with eight wins, and is the only team to have played in every tournament. The other winners are Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay (who where the inaugural champions), England, France and Spain.

Format of the World Cup Finals

The World Cup finals are divided into two stages – the group stages and the knockout competition. The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four, and then the four teams play a round robin style competition against each other. The teams are then ranked primarily based on how many points they earn (three points per win, one point per draw and zero per loss) and secondarily on goal difference.

After the group stage, the top two teams from each group enter the knockout competition. The teams play single elimination games with extra time and penalty shootouts used in cases of drawn games. After the round of sixteen, quarterfinals, semi-finals and a third-place match (between the two loosing semi-finalists) a final is played, from which the tournament winner is decided.

Australia versus India 2013

155927

The Australian cricket team has just completed their latest tour of India, presenting what was arguably their worst performance of all time in the sub continent. Loosing in a 4-0 whitewash, the Indian team was on top from the very first day of the series.

After the last Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2011/12 where the Australians dominated overall, the men in green and gold went into the competition confident. With a number of controversies in recent years, the rivalry between the two teams has escalated to a new level.

The First Test

The first test in Chennai began with the Australian openers starting well, but a mid-innings collapse forced by spinner Ravichandran Ashwin restricted them to 380. The Indian response was stuttered also be the fall of a couple of early wickets, but a fight back from veteran Sachin Tendulkar and Cheteshwar Pujara brought the total to over a hundred. Virat Kholi scored a hundred, only to be overshadowed by captain MS Dhoni’s brilliant 224. This stance gave India a strong lead, which the Australian side dribbled past. India easily chasing down the target of the 50 in the final innings.

The Second Test

The second test brought the teams to Hyderabad, where after winning the toss and electing to bat, the Australian top order collapsed again. Whilst Michael Clarke’s 91 held the team up, this was not the Australian captain’s biggest impact on the innings. Making the unusual decision to declare at 237/9 towards the end the day’s play in an effort to gain early wickets, he felt the decision back fire incredibly when India summed a total of 503. A double century from Pujara was the highlight of the innings. The visitors weren’t able to match the total in their second innings, giving the Indian side a massive win. Interestingly, this made Australia the first team ever to declare in their first innings and then loose by an innings.

The Third Test

The third test was marred by controversies from within the Australian ranks. Four players – vice captain Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja – were made ineligible to play on the grounds that they failed to complete a homework task set by Coach Mickey Arthur. Clarke later stipulated that the ban was as a result of a series of misdemeanors, and not an isolated incident.

After the first day was washed out, The Australians managed to score a total of 408, with Mitchell Starc scoring an agonizing 99. The Indian response of 499 was highlighted by debutant Shikhar Dhawan’s record breaking opening stand of 187. Australia, responding with 223, set a target of 133 for the Indians. Because the first day was lost, the last day became a thriller as the Indians battled to reach the target in time. Jadeja and Dhoni, however, didn’t let the match get out of hand, taking the side over the line with a few balls to spare.

The Fourth Test

The final test saw Australia dismissed for 262 in the first innings, and fight back of sorts saw them dismiss India after they only took a ten run lead. It seemed that this final game, whilst not being critical in terms of winning a series, would be the tight game that we all were hoping for. This hope fell apart right after Australia was dismissed for 164 in the second innings. With the help of an 82 from Pujara, India eased to the target and won the series 4-0.

This test series was historic in the sense that it was the first in which India had won four matches to win a series. Ashwin was named Man of the Series with his 29 wickets. The Australians will look to rebuild over the next few months before their crucial series in England for the Ashes.