With the AFL season at a close for another year, half of Australia is spending their weekends playing Backgammon and watching highlight reels of Law & Order SVU on YouTube to kill time. The good news is–when one door closes, another six fly open and make you question everything you thought you knew about the competitive Australian sporting industry. If the following sports don’t make you forget about football, nothing will.
Australian Quidditch Championships
Earlier this year Australia’s ‘Dropbears’ took out the 2016 Quidditch World Cup in a nail-biting final against America in Germany, which we’d all know about had Australian broadcast television not subjected us to season 462 of Come Dine With Me instead. Fortunately, you can get right in on the action when the 2016 Australian Quidditch Championships makes its way to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra during one magical weekend in December. From the Friday 9th to Sunday 11th, twenty teams from all over the country will go head-to-head for the glory and, better yet, the whole event is free!
Zorbing (Bubble Soccer)
There’re only two things better than regular soccer, and that’s oven baked Asian banquets and ‘Zorbing’. Also referred to on the pro-circuit as ‘Bubble Soccer’, Zorbing is everything you didn’t know you needed in your life. Played on a standard soccer field with five players either side, each encased in a durable plastic bubble, it’s less of a sport and more of an excuse to body-slam that guy from the office who watches his Snapchat stories on loud three times a day.
Unfortunately, Zorbing isn’t so much a spectator sport, so in order to combat those no-footy blues you’ll have to head over to The Football Factory in Coburg with nine of your best mates and/or worst enemies to battle it out.
If you find yourself at Melbourne Sports & Aquatic Centre on a Sunday night at 6:30pm, you’re sure to encounter what is arguably the most difficult spectator sport in the countr –Underwater Hockey. Short of donning your new Seafolly tankini and jumping in the pool yourself, you’ll have to remain especially focused to have any idea what’s happening.
On the upside, there’s a new pop-up café at the Speedo store which will be selling ten-cent Redskins if it knows what’s good for it.
Rabbit Show Jumping
Living in the shadow of animals forty-six times it’s size, rabbit show jumping or ‘Rabbit Hopping’ as it’s professionally referred to within the industry, is the sport that’s going to breathe new life into your football-less existence and make you forget that a banana was ever anything other than a tropical fruit.
Originating in some nine year-old’s blanket fort, Rabbit Hopping has taken the world by storm. Currently the high jump record in Australia is held by ‘Splash Rabbit Minties’ with a whopping seventy centimetres, or roughly the same height as an adult male Alsatian. Unfortunately, the recently diminishing demand for rabbit show jumping in the state has meant that public events in Victoria are few and far between. Fortunately, videos on YouTube are not.
Replace the horse with a canoe, the field with a pool, the stick with an oar, the jodhpurs with a one piece Speedo, and everything else with a heap of equipment that’s probably never even seen a paddock, and you get a very loose aquatic interpretation of traditional polo–canoe polo.
Considered one of the most dangerous professional sports outside of jousting and other weapon-related pursuits, canoe polo is a relatively small-scale sport in Australia. With five players either side, the main aim is to row across the pool and pelt a ball into a set of goals without sustaining life-long injuries. It’s every bit as exciting as it sounds and it can be seen live at the Essendon Canoe Club on November 23.
Two words: Unicycle. Hockey. Perhaps one of Australia’s best-kept secrets, this sport defies both expectations and general standards of human conduct. Played on half a bicycle with a regulation-sized ice hockey stick, this sport makes about as much sense as the latest season of Pretty Little Liars–none.
Fortunately, if ‘A’ can steal Emily’s frozen unfertilised eggs from a locked fertility centre, Melbourne can provide you with the monthly opportunity to play unicycle hockey - on the last Sunday of every month, near the Melbourne Museum end of Nicholson Street, at 2:30pm. Be there, or be somewhere else doing normal things.
Image credit: Paradoxoff Planet