By Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh

When I was a boy, myself and my brothers invented a game using the rubber base of a hospital crutch. We discovered that this base, which was rather conical in shape, had a very unpredictable trajectory when it bounced. The purpose of the game was to hit each other with the rubber base, first bouncing it off the ground. As far as I remember, nobody got seriously hurt. I don’t recall the scoring system.

Inventing sports comes easy to human beings — the World Sports Encyclopaedia lists over eight thousand different sports! And out of those eight thousand or so sports, there are some very odd ones.

Take, for instance, the game of underwater hockey — or octopush, as it is also called. This is played in swimming pools by two teams of ten players, six of whom are allowed under the water at any one time.

Like many sports, it was invented for a particular purpose — Alan Blake, founder of the Southsea Sub-Aqua diving club, invented it in 1954, to keep members occupied in the winter months, when it was too cold to dive in the open waters.
A World Championship has been held every two years since 1980, with over forty countries trying to compete. It is played an Ireland, and an Irish team first competed internationally at the European Championships in Sweden in 1993.
The sport of cluster ballooning was invented by one man, Larry Walters, in Los Angeles in 1982.

Walters was a thirty-two year old Vietnam veteran and truck driver. He had no experience flying, or even ballooning.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own