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Not your average sport

12 Nov 2015

Not your average sport Image

Southbank resident Jason Beelders is travelling to Argentina this month to represent Australia in a sport that few people would have heard of.

Jason is one of a squad of 10 fellow Aussies who will compete against 14 other nations at the World Championships of the sport fistball.

Fistball, which originated in Germany and is popular in countries with a heavy German influence such as Austria, Switzerland, Brazil and Argentina, is a sport that Jason describes as “a combination of volleyball and tennis.”

An engineer during the week, Jason said he first got involved in the sport through a friend of a friend who had started gathering a group of friends regularly at their local park.

He said the initiative started in Australia through a group of friends or “sporting battlers” as he described them, who were simply keen to represent their country in a sport.

“One of my friends, his cousin, was sitting at a pub one night with a couple of friends and they said we really want to represent our country in a sport and what can we do?” he said.

“So basically they looked up a whole bunch of sports that weren’t played in Australia through a casual Google search, which was about four years ago and fistball came up as one of them.”

Through what started as a conversation in the pub, the Australian Fistball Federation was soon formed and has since grown into a six-team league based out of Melbourne.

Often described as “volleyball on grass,” Fistball is played between two teams of five on a bigger court (50m x 20m). Players must use a closed fist or forearm, the ball is allowed to bounce once between hits and teams have three hits to get it over the net.

As the sport has gained momentum in Australia, Jason said the International Fistball Federation had even sent out proper equipment and professional players to provide coaching.

He said it was the comradery and the opportunity to learn a whole range of new skills that attracted him to the sport.

“I think I like the fact that it’s different so it’s a completely new skills set that you have to learn,” he said.

“I do enjoy diving around so when I used to play cricket I enjoyed fielding so as far as diving goes I’m not too bad at that.”

“It’s also the comradery because fistball is mainly an amateur sport there’s a really good vibe amongst the community.”

Australia will start its bid at the world championships this month in a pool with Columbia, India, Pakistan and fellow fistballing newcomers South Africa.

Originally from South Africa, Jason said he was extra motivated to win the fixture against his old country and tipped that Australia might cause an upset or two.

“For me it’s a bit bitter sweet because I grew up in South Africa and the first country we play against is South Africa so there’s going to be a bit of an internal rivalry going on,” he said.

“We’re one of the newcomers but I think we can definitely surprise a few teams.”

To learn more about the sport visit
www.fistball.com.au

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