5 Unusual Sports Played Around the World

One of the benefits of travelling is discovering new cultures and trying new things. If you’re looking for a unique experience, take a look at some of these unusual sports from around the world, to see which one you might want to try out.


Kabaddi is a popular contact team sport, originating from the Indian subcontinent. It involves two teams of seven players and is played on a court. Each team will have one half of the court and the aim of the game is for one player (known as the raider) to run into the opposing team’s half and touch as many of the opposing team as possible, all with just a single breath.

The raider will have 30 seconds to enter the opposing team’s half before they have to return to their own half and will have to avoid being tackled by the defenders during this time. The raider will have to continuously chant “kabaddi” whilst they are raiding, to prove they have done the raid without inhaling and taking another breath.

Kabaddi is thought to have derived from Jallikattu, a traditional event held in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu where a bull is released into a crowd of people, who try to hold onto the bull as it attempts to escape. The sport became popular in the 20th century. It’s now played all across the Indian subcontinent and some neighbouring countries and is the national sport of Bangladesh.  


Sporthocking is a sport that originated in Germany in 2007. It combines a mix of skateboarding, juggling, parkour and sitting down – which is why it’s also sometimes referred to as “extreme sitting”.

Participants use a colourful plastic stool shaped like a dumbbell with rubber trimming that they use to perform tricks, similar to a skateboard. Participants will juggle, flip, and spin the stool, as well as performing balancing and breakdancing-esque feats, before they finish by sitting on the stool.

The goal of Sporthocking is to perform as many tricks with the stool as possible, with the hardest, most complicated tricks gaining the most acclaim.

Sepak Bola Api

Sepak Bola Api, also known as fireball soccer, is an unusual sport that is not for the faint-hearted. It is played by Indonesian students to welcome the month of Ramadan and to test players’ bravery.

As the name suggests, fireball soccer is played similarly to usual football, but the ball will be on fire. It is traditionally a coconut that has been soaked in kerosene and lit on fire. The players will be soaked in salt and non-flammable herbs and spices prior to the game, to help keep them safe from the flames as they play barefoot.

Apart from the flaming ball, Sepak Bola Api is very similar to traditional soccer. There will be two teams of 11 and whoever scores the most goals wins. It’s said that playing Sepak Bola Api helps to improve players’ courage, confidence, and teamwork.

Goanna Pulling

Goanna Pulling is an Australian sport a little like a tug-of-war. A Goanna is a type of lizard, and this sport gets its name from the appearance of the players as they participate.

Goanna Pulling will involve two players who will lie stomach-down on the floor with their hands out and facing each other. Between them will be a line on the floor. They will have a strap around their necks, joining them together and they will have to pull each other. Whichever player can pull the other over the line that divides them, wins.

The Goanna Pulling Championships have been held every year since 1985 in Wooli, a seaside town in New South Wales, Australia. The event draws huge crowds of up to 3,000 visitors. Everyone is welcome to take part in Goanna Pulling, with weight categories splitting the participants.

Oil Wrestling

Oil wrestling, also called grease wrestling, or Yağlı Güreş, is a Turkish sport that dates back over 4,500 years. As the name suggests, it involves participants wrestling while covered in oil, which makes them much harder to grab.

Oil wrestling involves two participants attempting to pick each other up and put their opponent on the ground belly up. Traditionally, there was no time limit for the wrestling match, with some lasting minutes and some lasting hours. However, after a tragic event in 1975 where the match lasted longer than a day and both men were fatally injured, matches are now capped at 40 minutes.

The annual oil wrestling tournament, Kirkpinar, has been held in Edirne in Turkish Thrace since 1360. It is the oldest, continuously running sports competition in the world.

If you’ll be travelling abroad to take part in any of these sports, make sure you’re covered with international travel insurance. Expatriate Group provides flexible travel insurance policies with annual multi trip insurance available if you’re planning a few trips. Get a quote online today.

Related News