While the rules may be similar, the terrain is not - no well-manicured fields for these soccer players - they like to get down and dirty as they battle it out for the World Cup Championships. Welcome to Swamp Soccer!
Swamp Soccer originated in Finland as a form of exercise for athletes and soldiers. The first organized swamp soccer championships were held in 1998 with 19 teams, all from Finland. The game soon gained popularity all over the world and today, there are over 260 swamp soccer teams in the world.
Swamp soccer is quite similar to normal soccer with a few modifications, which include shorter play time (only 13 minutes per half). While only 6 players (including the goalie) from each team are allowed on the field at any given time, the team can have up to 12 players on its roster and make unlimited player changes. Also, the penalty area is five meters deep and corner kicks, penalties and throw-ins are made with drop kicks. Though no shoe changing is allowed, teams can dress in fancy dress as long as they are all consistent. The teams can be all men, all women, or a mix of both.
Since the swamp is so soft, players have to use unconventional winning tactics. For one, the ball does not roll very far before it sinks, so the only way to get the ball far is either kick it or hit it with the head. Also, unlike professional soccer, anyone can enter the competition - while it helps to be fit, it isn't a requirement - although having fun sure is!
This year's World Cup Championships were held in the Scottish town of Strachur, Argyll. More then 40 teams with names like 'The Jeff Stelling Appreciation Society' and 'Rambo First Mud' participated in the three-day event, competing in what organizers described as the perfect weather conditions - two days of rain prior to the start, making the swamp nice and soft!
This year's proud recipient of the $1,000 USD, hand-crafted copper trophy was Team Rambo. The team, dressed like their namesake, ploughed through last year's winners 'Fuddy Muckers', before beating the 'Angry Beavers' in a 5-4 overtime penalty shoot out. Team Rambo's captain said that after three days of grueling matches, they were all thrilled to emerge as the winners. As to how long it takes to clean the mud off - one can only guess!
Source: BBC.com, IHT.com. Skytv.com