I recently found myself channel-hopping between the Tour de France and the FIFA World Cup, marveling at these two groups of highly skilled athletes; one group on bicycles and the other using footballs and I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be great if these two sports were combined”. Well, it turns out there’s a sport that does exactly that and it’s called Cycle Ball.
Now, I’ve only just discovered this but it isn’t a new sport at all – Cycle Ball has been around for 120 years! Apparently, the concept started in 1893 when a German-American man named Nick Kauffman had to move a dog out of his way with his bike wheel. The dog was replaced with a ball and voila! Thankfully, no animals were hurt in the making of the sport and it’s still massively popular in Europe and Japan. It’s just a pity it hasn’t spread to the African Continent yet.
The concept is simple enough, it’s literally football played on bikes. It’s played between two teams with two players on each team. The sport can be played both indoors or outdoors, however most competitions are held indoors. The field used is rectangular in shape, about half the size of a basketball court. There are goal posts on both ends, which are of the same size as indoor football goal posts. The team that scores the most goals wins the match.
It sounds like great fun, but before you quit your day job to become a professional Cycle Baller, consider a few things; 1) there are lots of crashes and injuries are frequent. 2) It’s very difficult. Players are expected to use just the bike to control, flick and move the ball. 3) You have to use a fixed-gear bike with no brakes.
If you still think this is the sport for you, and you’re keen on travelling, you’ll be glad to know there are several club level tournaments conducted in major Cycle Ball playing countries every year. A major international level competition is conducted for the sport as a part of the annual UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships.
As thrilling as Cycle Ball sounds, my ball skills leave a little to be desired and it looks pretty intense. Perhaps I’ll try my hand at the slightly easier yet no less amazing “Artistic Cycle” (think about a cross between ballet and acrobatics on a bicycle). Wish me luck!