Beyond Soccer: The World’s Most Unusual Ball Sports

Soccer, also known as football, is the world's most popular sport. However, there are various ball sports played across different cultures that are equally fascinating and unusual. In this article, we explore some of the most unique and lesser-known ball sports from around the world.

Buzkashi – The Afghanistan's Rough and Rugged Sport

Buzkashi, which means "goat grabbing" in Persian, is the national sport of Afghanistan. This exhilarating sport involves horse-mounted players battling for control of a dead goat carcass. The objective is to grab the carcass and gallop towards a designated scoring area, while opponents attempt to snatch it from them. Originating from nomadic traditions, Buzkashi is a display of strength, agility, and horsemanship. It is a thrilling sight to witness the horse riders fiercely jostling for possession of the carcass amidst a chaotic and fast-paced environment.

Kabaddi – India's Ancient Wrestling-like Sport

Kabaddi is a contact team sport that originated in ancient India and is still widely popular today. It combines elements of wrestling and tag. The game is played between two teams, with each team taking turns sending a "raider" into the opponent's half, while the opponents try to stop them. The raider's objective is to tag as many opponents as possible and return to their own half within a single breath, all while chanting "kabaddi." The opponents, on the other hand, strive to physically tackle the raider before they can escape. The fast-paced and physically demanding nature of Kabaddi makes it an intense and thrilling sport to watch.

Sepak Takraw – Southeast Asia's Kick Volleyball

Sepak Takraw, also known as kick volleyball, is a sport that originated in Southeast Asia and is particularly popular in countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. It is played with a rattan ball and involves players using only their feet, knees, chest, and head to keep the ball aloft and send it over the net to the opposing team's side. This acrobatic sport showcases incredible athleticism, with players performing gravity-defying kicks, flips, and aerial stunts to keep the ball in play. Sepak Takraw requires exceptional coordination, agility, and flexibility, making it a visually captivating and highly skilled sport.

Calcio Storico – Italy's Historic and Brutal Sport

Calcio Storico, also known as historic football, is a traditional Italian sport with roots dating back to the 16th century. It is a mix of soccer, rugby, and wrestling, played on a sand-covered square field with two teams of 27 players each. The objective is to score goals by any means necessary, using both hands and feet. What sets Calcio Storico apart is its physicality and violence. Players engage in fierce tackles, punches, and wrestling maneuvers, often resulting in injuries. The sport is deeply ingrained in Italian history and culture, with matches taking place annually in Florence during the traditional festivities of Saint John the Baptist.

Bossaball – The Hybrid Sport with Music and Trampolines

Bossaball is a relatively recent hybrid sport that combines elements of volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, and Capoeira – a Brazilian martial art. It is played on an inflatable court with a trampoline on each side of the net and features lively music playing in the background. The objective of Bossaball is to pass the ball over the net and onto the opponent's side while incorporating acrobatic maneuvers. Players can use any part of their body to touch the ball, except for their hands. The game's dynamic nature, combined with music and acrobatics, creates an entertaining and energetic atmosphere that sets it apart from traditional ball sports.


While soccer may dominate the global sports stage, there are countless unique and extraordinary ball sports played worldwide. From the rough-and-tumble Buzkashi to the skillful Sepak Takraw, these lesser-known sports showcase the diversity of human ingenuity and cultural traditions. Whether it's the ancient Kabaddi in India or the brutal Calcio Storico in Italy, these ball sports offer a glimpse into different societies and their distinctive sporting passions. So, venture beyond soccer and explore the world's most unusual ball sports – you might discover a new favorite!