Since time, humanity has been captivated by the sphere, whether its the sun, moon, or Jupiter, or a representative of these, a ball.

Be it to kick, bat, throw or catch, we have always been fascinated by the ball, and we find its existence in many sports still in the present day. Birthed from time-honoured tradition, created out of tedium and everything in between – these ancient ball games continue entertaining nations around the world.


Gaga, a form of dodgeball, is thought to have begun in Israel as Gaga means ‘touch touch’ in Hebrew.

Fashioning a makeshift court out of wooden benches, players create a chest-high octagonal wall. Depending on the size of the arena, either soccer or tennis ball is used. Players then slap and swipe the ball around, and those hit in the waist or below are disqualified—last person standing wins.

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What started with students’ running around with brooms and a ball at their Vermont school, inspired by the Harry Potter imagined game of Quidditch, has now evolved into a full-fledged sport regulated by the International Quidditch Association. There’s even an international Quidditch World Cup! The goal is to end the game with more points than the opposing team. You can have up to 21 players for a quidditch match, but only 1 Keeper, 3 Chasers, 2 Beaters, 1 Seeker may be on-pitch at any given time.

To score points, three Chasers and one Keeper must work together to pass the quaffle through their opponent’s set of hoops

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Sepak Takraw

Takraw is very popular in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, and is not for the faint-hearted or unfit. The courts are about twice the size of a badminton court, and teams of three need to kick or hit the ball over a net without touching it with their hand or arm, bearing in mind the net is roughly 1.5m high.

Points are awarded for faults, including an opponent knocking the ball out of the court, contact with a hand/arm, and scoring the ball in bounds. A game goes to 21 points. That’s a lot of flips over the net!

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Similar to Sepak Takraw, this exhilarating game is played on a giant inflatable volleyball court, with the floor made of trampolines.  

In this game, two teams of four, play to 21. A team can touch the ball a maximum of five times to get it on the other side, but the regulations on points scored by touch/location make this as much of a strategy game as a sport.

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A mixture of golf and baseball, Hornussen is a Swiss sport dating back to the 16th century. There are two teams, and the batting team must hit a round puck called a Nouss as far as possible into the opponent’s area.

The opposing team must stop the Nouss by using a shingle or catch board. The team with the smallest number of penalisation points at the end of the game wins.

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In this fiery game, the ball is prepared by wrapping it in an extensive amount of cloth, tying it with cords, and binding it with soft wire mesh to hold it together. After all the wrappings, the ball, which is the size of a soccer ball, is placed in flammable fluid until thoroughly soaked. The game is played like soccer at night and lasts about 20 minutes, the time it takes ball to consume itself. The team having that scores the most goals before the ball burns out, wins.

Feature Image Credit: The Atlantic

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