Three Unique Sports to Try in Europe

Have big plans to travel to Europe this summer? Known for its wide array of captivating landscapes and diverse cultures, it can be hard to pick a place to start. One sure way to have a bit of fun, though, is to try your hand at some of the native sports. Here are three unique and popular European sports:

1. Rugby

Rugby is a contact sport which originated in public schools in England circa the eighteen hundreds. Similar to American football, this fast-paced game improves players’ endurance, agility, and strength. While you are sure to have fun, it is important to bring proper gear.

Most players choose to wear soccer cleats, which allow for good grip while running on the field. It is advisable to bring a pair without toe cleats, though, as this often leads to accidents when the tip catches. Another important piece of equipment is a mouth guard to protect your teeth from hard blows. Rugby has a tendency to get rough as players push themselves to the max in the hopes of scoring more points than the other side. For this reason, it is also important to have a well-fitted helmet capable of withstanding a good amount of shock. Lastly, come appropriately dressed. Durable jerseys that will not rip during play are suitable, as are draw-string shorts to keep players cool and comfortable.

2. Cricket

Kind of like a European baseball, cricket involves a batting team pitted against a fielding team. A pitcher on the fielding team will ‘bowl,’ or throw, the ball to the opposing batsmen. The point of the game is to make more runs than the rival team.

Gear is imperative for safe playing—injuries are a fast way for fun to dissipate. Pads should be worn on the shins and elbows to safeguard players from the danger of fast-moving hard balls. In addition, a helmet is absolutely necessary to protect the head. Concussions can be common if players do not wear these essential pieces of gear. For participants who have had eye injuries or who normally wear glasses, eye protection through prescription sports goggles or impact resistant prescription sunglasses is crucial. Gloves are also important to prevent soreness or bleeding that can arise from both batting and catching.

3. Underwater Hockey

Quite the novelty sport, underwater hockey is really making a splash! The rules mirror the rules of field or ice hockey with the only difference being the aquatic playing field. Two teams made up of six players each dive in to everyday swimming pools and struggle to shoot the puck into their prospective goals.

Each player is equipped with his or her own underwater hockey stick, which is used to guide the puck through the clear blue to teammates or the goal. In addition, a set of fins is worn to help players propel themselves to victory. Well-fitted goggles make sure players can see exactly what is happening in the game. All diving is required to be free-diving only, so snorkels are the only breathing aid allowed. Nonetheless, with audience members dazzled by such a scintillating scene, divers won’t be the only ones holding their breath!

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

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