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After school sports around the world

Today, there’s a lot of attention on how much activity kids are taking part in and how much exercise they’re doing every day. After school sports are great ways to get kids participating in games, learning about teamwork and socialising with their peers — but do after-school sports change country to country?

From Japan to Sri Lanka, we’ve found countries with the most interesting after-school sports programmes to find out how kids across the world get active in different cultures.

Japan: baseball

After being introduced as a school sport in Japan in the late 1800s, baseball has become a hugely popular sport for kids and adults alike. In fact, high school baseball attracts a lot of attention in the country — possibly even more than professional baseball — and the Japanese High School Baseball Championship is viewed on TVs across the nation.

Essentially, the rules of Japanese baseball are the same as those for Major League Baseball apart from a few minor differences including a littler ball and playing field. As an after-school sport, baseball in Japan revolves around two, yearly tournaments for schools across the country to participate in, with each final game played at the Hanshin Kōshien Stadium in Nishinomiya.

Clearly, the Japanese don’t just adore baseball during their school years. Japan has won the World Baseball Classic twice, with its national team believed to be one of the best on the planet, according to the World Baseball Softball Confederation

Australia: Australian football

Australian football is played by primary and secondary school kids and is considered a national sport for Aussies. The sport partly came from English football and the first rules of the game came about in 1859. Today, the sport attracts the most spectators and TV viewership numbers of all sports in Australia.

For many Brits, Australian football looks similar in format and play to rugby or American football, but there are several differences. For example, an Australian football pitch is bigger than both rugby and American football fields and game time is split into four quarters of 20 minutes each. The Aussies’ sport also features more team members and a rule that states its players can only pass the ball by kicking or punching it.

Australians know the value of participating in sports as a child. In fact, an Australian Football League and Australian Sports Commission initiative named ‘Sporting Schools’ launched in 2015 at a cost of $200 million AUD to help schools boost their pupils’ participation in Australian football.

Brazil: capoeira

Not many people will have heard of capoeira — a popular after-school sport for Brazilian kids. Capoeira is a type of martial art that developed in the South American country in the 1500s and is today protected by UNESCO due to its cultural significance.

School kids practice Brazil’s fast-paced, skilful national sport for its focus on music, dance and acrobatics. Essentially, participants use their lower bodies for kicking and sweeping, with their upper bodies coming into play as an ‘assistive’ technique. The aim of capoeira is to manoeuvre around your opponent rather than hit them — if you take part, you must create an uninterrupted flow of striking and dodging in order to defend your body. Evasion, rather than blocking, is the mode-of-defence driven by capoeira, while the overriding goal is to trick or deceive your opponent by using rhythm to get into a position of attack.

Capoeira improves balance, flexibility and co-ordination. It’s a great sport for kids that has even been practiced at some UK schools and youth facilities. In fact, a capoeira-based establishment — the London School of Capoeira — has been around for 30 years!

India: cricket

It’s no shock that people from India love cricket. According to the Board of Control for Cricket in India, its country is a world leader for the sport — with regard to profits — and the nation has been world champions twice.

All over India, kids have the opportunity to attend cricket academies to help them take the leap into professionalism — and the offer isn’t only extended to children from rich Indian families. Former Indian government official, Rajesh Pundir, launched a Slum Cricket League with an aim to helping poorer Indian children living in Delhi take their passion for cricket to a professional level via training and support.

Indian kids’ love for the sport is clear in their incredible successes. For example, 15-year-old Pranev Dhanawade broke the world record for highest score achieved by a single person in any form of cricket — 1,009 runs in an innings while playing for KC Gandhi English School!

Sweden: bandy

Little is known about bandy outside of Nordic countries and Russia, but it’s actually an interesting mix of a few well-known sports. Using bowed sticks and a small ball like field hockey, played on an ice ‘pitch’ like ice hockey, and lasting for 90 minutes with 11 players like football; bandy is a fast-paced activity adored by the Swedes and Russians.

Despite Stockholm hitting temperatures as low as -10℃ in mid-winter, many people still head outside to the Zinkensdamms IP sports ground for a family day out watching a game of bandy and it’s a very popular hobby for school-age kids. On a trip to Sweden in January 2018, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge even joined in a youth game of bandy where the Duchess lost to her husband in a penalty shoot-out.

Although believed to have originated in Sweden, the Russians consider bandy a de facto national sport. In Russia, bandy typically translates to ‘Russian hockey’ and the Federation of International Bandy was partly founded in 1955 by the Soviet Union, which shows how important the sport is there, too.

Sri Lanka: volleyball

In Sri Lanka, which sits in the Indian Ocean off the coast of India, volleyball is a national and beloved sport. Played from a young age, it’s an immensely popular after-school game with a highly publicised, national tournament — the DSI Supersport Schools’ Volleyball Championship — organised for competing kids annually.

The DSI Supersport Schools’ Volleyball Championship features around 198 teams and includes five age groups: under 11s, under 13s, under 15s, under 17s, and under 19s. To enter the tournament, which has been running since 1999, schools must submit an application before playing through the stages to the final. This Sri Lankan children’s championship garners so much positive attention that government official, Ranjith Siyabalampitiya, commented this year: “This tournament will be a good opportunity for the youngsters to show their worth and be better players in the future in the field of volleyball.”

The Sri Lanka Volleyball Federation is the main governing body of the game, which was introduced to the island nation in 1916.


New age group for DSI Schools’ Volleyball Championship

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