It’s not all football, cricket and netball in Sydney. Believe it or not, there are stacks of locals involved in many other sports … and not all of them you would instantly recognise. The sports we’ve listed below all have a ‘little crazy’ element, but they also look like serious fun!

1. Subbuteo

What is it? Also known as table football, the game is played on a mini tabletop pitch, complete with two teams of miniature players and goals.

How do you play it? During the game, you use your hand’s dexterity and skill to flick the playing figures, which all stand on weighted bases. The aim is to get your players to kick the soccer ball into their goal, of course!

Interesting fact: The thumb can rest on the table when flicking, but it can’t be used to help your finger flick the figure.

Learn more: Visit the Australian Table Football Association.

Watch a demo…

2. Underwater hockey

What is it? It’s like ice hockey but in a swimming pool with players wearing a mask, snorkel and fins. There are six players on each side, with four substitutes allowed.

How do you play it? Small bats are used instead of regular hockey sticks – one team uses black, the other white. Players then use their bats to pass a puck, similar to that used in ice hockey, under 2+ metres of water at the deep end of the pool. The aim is to move the puck across the bottom of the pool and score a goal in your ‘tray’. Easier said than done when you have to hold your breath!

Interesting fact: The puck is made from plastic-covered lead and weighs 1.5kg so that it doesn’t float in the pool.

Learn more: Visit the Sydney UWH Club.

Watch a demo…

3. Wall Ball

What is it? This is a lot like the handball we used to play in primary school, but it’s played against a wall rather than across a line on the ground. The game is not only played in Sydney but actually started on the streets of Redfern. It originated as an excuse for young adults to get out of backyards over summer and hang out with a few mates, drink beers and have a tad of competitive fun.

How do you play it? The game is pretty straightforward. All you need is a wall, a ball and someone to play against – sometimes as many as 15 opponents! To play the game, you serve the ball (usually a tennis ball) to two or more players by bouncing it against a wall. If the return ball bounces more than once before hitting the wall again, the opponent earns a point. There is lots of street jargon involved for various plays and wall surfaces, which makes it even more exciting.

Interesting fact: There are no refs – the game is self-governed. When the competition gets intense, there can be a few nominated people on-hand to settle disputes.

Learn more: Visit Wall Ball International.

Watch a demo…

4. Real Tennis

What is it? Formerly called royal tennis in Australia, the game is the original version of tennis, and has been around since the 1600s. It’s played on an indoor court, using walls with holes in them as part of the game. Some say the game is like a combo of tennis, squash and chess.

How do you play it? Like the tennis we know, the game scores in fifteens, with the exception of 40, which was shortened from 45. In real tennis, six games wins a set, without the need for a two-game buffer as in lawn tennis, though some tournaments play up to nine games per set. A match is typically the best of three sets. The most interesting thing about real tennis is the court itself. Surrounded by four walls, there are various strange window-like openings (‘galleries’) below the penthouse roofs which can offer the player a chance to win a point instantly if they hit the ball into the opening.

Interesting fact: Aussie Robert Fahey is the current world champion and has been since 1994!

Learn more: Visit Sydney Real Tennis Club.

Watch a demo…

5. Bike Polo

What is it? You may have guessed, bike polo is a bit like regular polo, but played on a bike instead of a horse!

How do you play it? It seems the rules differ depending on where in Australia and the world you play. In Sydney, it’s three against three, a goal can only be scored if hit with the end of a plastic mallet, and the first team to reach five goals by hitting the ball into their netted goal, wins.

Interesting fact: In the event that their uniforms match, the opposing teams must toss a coin. The losers must change uniforms.

Learn more: Visit Sydney Bike Polo.

Watch a demo…

6. Legends Football League (LFL)

What is it? Until 2013, this game was known as the Lingerie Football League. It’s essentially a women’s 7-on-7 American football league. In Sydney, this very interesting game is played at Penrith’s Pirtek Stadium. And our local team is the New South Wales Surge.

How do you play it? Following the basic rules of American football, the LFL involves a team of female footballers wearing bikini-like uniforms, with shoulder pads and helmets – just think back to the Aussie TV show Gladiators and you’ll get the picture. It’s obviously quite sexualised (hence the original name for the league), but the players do take it seriously.

Interesting fact: Prior to 2013, the players also wore garters!

Learn more: Visit New South Wales Surge.

Watch a demo…

7. Fistball

What is it? Originating in Europe, dating back to at least the year 240, this game is played both indoors and out (on grass). The fistball court is a little like a volleyball court with a net, ribbon or string strung across the centre at 2m high for men and 1.9m high for women.

How do you play it? Two teams each of five players rally against each other similar to volleyball, but using only a closed fist to hit the ball. After clearing the net, the ball may be contacted up to three times by each team – with a bounce allowed before each contact. Each error made by a team counts as a point for the opponents. The winner is the team that’s won three or five sets – a set ends when one team has scored 11 points and is at least two points in the lead.

Interesting fact: Unlike volleyball, if the net or posts are touched by either a player or the ball during play, this is considered an error.

Learn more: Visit Sydney Fistball Club and Fistball Federation of Australia.

Watch a demo…

8. Chess Boxing

What is it? Probably the weirdest hybrid of sports, this combination of chess and boxing is a real spectacle.

How do you play it? The competitors fight in alternating rounds of chess and boxing – it’s where brains and brawn are tested in the same arena! It’s 11 rounds in the ring, alternating between four-minute rounds of chess (until six rounds) and three-minute rounds of boxing (until five rounds).

Interesting fact: In the case that neither of the chess boxers win in regulation time and the chess game ends in a draw, the fighter who is ahead on boxing points wins the chess boxing bout. In case the scoreboard is also tied, the fighter that used the black chess pieces will be named the winner, although this has never actually occurred.

Learn more: Visit Sydney Chess Boxing.

Watch a demo…

9. Roller Derby

What is it? Roller Derby is a contact sport whereby teams of five to 14 players rollerskate around a track in the same direction.

How do you play it? The sport involves a series of two-minute match-ups (jams) in which each team designates a jammer who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. Meanwhile, the teams attempt to hinder the opposing jammer while assisting their own. Contact by hands, elbows, head and feet are prohibited, as is contact above the shoulders and below the mid-thigh. Also, contact may not be from the rear, only from a player’s front or sides.

Interesting fact: Given this is a serious contact sport, girls are allowed to wear hard-case sports bras, while males can wear protective cups.

Learn more: Visit the Sydney Roller Derby League.

Watch a demo…

10. Streetluge

What is it? Similar to the luge at the Winter Olympics, with street luge you lie face upwards on a thin sled with wheels and race down a road or course, letting gravity work its magic.

How do you play it? Races can take part on mountain or city roads. The race can be in the following formats: Single or double elimination with two, four or six racers at a time, Timed trials, No-elimination points system (races win points for each finishing position over several heats) and Mass runs, with up to 20 racers at a time.

Interesting fact: Mechanical brakes are prohibited on the sleds.

Learn more: Visit Australian Streetluge.

Watch a demo…

We’d love to know if you’ve taken part in or are currently playing any of the above sports. Let us in on why you love it so much in the comments section below.

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