Playing A Game Of Catch-Up

Americans are slow to the game of Futsal, Netball, and Chess Boxing.


Elaina Malcom, Staff Writer

Americans love their sports, just about as much as they love being unique. However, there are many  unusual sports throughout the world that haven’t become popularized in the United States yet: Futsal, Netball, and Chess Boxing.


Futsal is an indoor variation of soccer that is widely popular all over the world. Professional soccer plays particularly enjoy it for its intense ball handling workout. Surprisingly, Futsal is not new. It originated in the 1930s in Uruguay and has gradually spread globally.  In fact, it is gaining recognition here in the United States, which has come to appreciate the ease of installing indoor fields compared to outdoor ones, turning this game into a year-round sport. Locally, those kicking around the idea of trying this sport can check out Futboleros Soccer Academy in South Bend.


Another unique sport is netball. Although originated in the U.S. in 1895 as form of women’s basketball, it took until 1995 to be recognized as a sport by the Olympic Committee. Likely to never be as popular as its counterpart of basketball, netball is one of the fastest growing sports in America–thanks to Netball America.  The major difference between it and basketball is that netball allows no dribbling or running of the ball. In fact, it is a no-contact sport, which makes it possible for co-ed teams of all ages to play. However, precision is definitely the name of this game, as there is no backboard for the hoop.  And, it’s definitely a fast-paced game, as well, as the players are required to pass the ball within 3 seconds to get the ball down the court.


Far more physical but equally enjoyable is chess boxing.  As its name states, it combines chess and boxing into one sport. Participants actually compete in alternating rounds of chess and boxing in order to win. Wins can come from defeating the opponent in boxing, a checkmate in the chess portion, or a time penalty against the opponent. Oddly, chess boxing was invented by a French comic book artist–Enki Bilal–in the 1970s. In time, it grew into an actual competitive sport that is most popular in Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, and Italy. According to the World Chess Boxing Organization, there are 800 people who find interest in this sport and apply to participate in championship fights.

All these sports are clearly variations of already incredibly popular spots in the United States. However, most have never even heard of them. This is disappointing to Khylie Aguilar, a junior at Elkhart High School. “I think sports are considered unique when they are presented unconventionally, without the exact same concepts as every other sport. We need sports that aren’t on T.V. everyday to be more acknowledged.”

Mr. Michael Pawlak, EHS teacher, takes that point a bit further. He believes that sports are meant to be played, as well. “I’ve participated in many supposed unique sports and activities–none of which has disappointed me. Everything was very exciting and different.”

Unique sports can have a great impact on the community when given the opportunity. Sports can bring communities together, making them healthier and stronger in so many ways. Maybe in time, these sports will find a place in Elkhart.