If you’re tired of football where a gentle kick to the thigh provides a reason to collapse in pain and constant debate with the referee is giving you a headache swamp football is for you. This is a version of football with a lot less rules and as the name suggests, the game is played in a swamp. Whilst the sport is said to originate from England and is played to some extent in Britain, it is often played on a muddy field. Not in Finland, where the World Championships in swamp football are held every summer - in an actual bog.
Should this not prove enough of a challenge, maybe wife carrying is for you. Legend has it that a there once lived a man in Finland who lived as an outlaw in a forest, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. However, he sometimes got lonely and made a habit of kidnapping girls from nearby towns and villages and carrying them off into the woods. Here the foundations for hag carrying, these days more sensitively called wife carrying, were laid. Around the same parts where this man lived you can now compete in the World Championships, completing a track with both dry and water obstacles carrying your wife. Carrying techniques include piggyback, fireman and the Estonian where the wife hangs upside down on the husband’s back. Apparently it works since the Estonians have won the title more often than anyone else. The winning pair is awarded the wife’s weight in beer.
Finland has over the past century been successful in javelin throwing, but the items thrown for sport in Finland are far from limited to those approved by any Olympic Committees. One of the most internationally widespread of such throwing events is rubber boot throwing. Once again, the English have a similar sport, wellie wanging, along with several other countries but it is not part of the league of boot-throwing. If the weight of the boot doesn’t prove enough of a throwing challenge, there is always milking stool throwing.
A Finnish throwing event that shouldn't come as a surprise is mobile phone throwing, which no doubt has increased in popularity since Finnish Nokia fell into humiliating decline from a position as the biggest mobile phone company in the world. Through this sport Finns can make use of their old Nokia phones, or demonstrate their dissatisfaction with new Nokia CEO Microsoft BFF Stephen Elop by throwing new Nokia mobiles running the Windows Phone OS.
When you’ve run out of things to throw, why not compete in who can sit in an ants’ nest the longest? In the fall you can compete in berry picking (lingonberry record 27.98 kilograms in an hour) or mosquito squashing. Surely the winter will mean a break in crazy sports? No, the winter season is yet another season for sport interest. If you are brave enough, compete in who can stay in the ice cold water the longest, or if you get your hands on a strange object looking like a chair sitting on two long metal runners, a kicksled, why not give racing a go? Whatever you try if you spend enough time in Eastern Finland you are likely to find somewhere to compete in it.
So matter the time of the year, the competition goes on and admittedly perhaps some of these sports are better left to the natives. There is however one final World Championship original to Finland, one most people should be able to participate in; the Air Guitar World Championships. It’s an opportunity for all of those who never made it as a rockstar to strut their stuff on stage in full makeup and outfits. Feeling a bit rusty? Relax! No musical talent needed! The last champion was an American, ‘Nordic Thunder’ but in 2011 the title was won by a fierce lady under the name of The Devil’s Niece.
If none of these sports inspire you, don’t despair - maybe you haven’t had to live through enough real winters when moving on foot from point A to point B is a challenge in itself. It is all about the spirit! There must be some sport you’re good at, that you can enjoy. And if not... there is always video games and ugly dancing. However, should your mobile phone break, make the North proud and throw it as far as you can.