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Innovation is alive and kicking in community sport – are you?

Ever since some rugby players in the USA more 100 years ago introduced the forward pass and thus set the foundation for what is now American Football have we seen regular innovations in sport and physical activity.

Some don’t really last, but most are ignored, or even ridiculed, by people within ‘The System’

Often these developments and innovations are not developed by people at the top, but by some ‘silly’ people out there in the communities who then take their initial wacky and make it come to life.

So, here are some examples I’ve come across. I am sure there are many others, and if you have an example, please let me know. Also, when you look at these cases, I want you to consider how you can introduce new thinking where you are…as they say ‘innovate of die’.

Mermaid swimming (or Mermaiding) is making a splash

Over the last few years, swimming wearing a mermaid tail has become indreasingly popular and there indeed a number of males doing it, called Mermen.

You have to be a relatively skilled swimmer to be allowed to put on the tail, which, apparently gives you feeling of freedom in the water
Last September saw the first Merlympics being held in Dorset
Some public pools do not allow swimming with a mermaid tail is due to safety regulations, whereas others positively encourage it and offer Mermaid Experiences and Parties. One of those is community-owned Jesmond Pool

Being a mermaid is apparently a cross between free diving and synchronised swimming – with your feet strapped together

Hobbyhorsing: what girls everywhere can learn from the Finnish craze

In Finland, the beginnings of the modern popularity of hobbyhorsing among young girls stands as something of a mystery, though it is known that for some while the community flourished secretly online. Today, there are not just practitioners but coaches, competitions, judges.

Enthusiasts assign their horses names, breeds and genders, and along the usual displays of cantering, trotting and galloping, meetings will cover everything from in-depth discussions of grooming, bloodlines, temperament, and, on at least one occasion, a two-part dressage routine choreographed to a song by the rapper Nelly.

The 8th Finnish National Championships were held in June with 400 participants and 2500 spectators and you can watch a brief video here

If this seems an unlikely pursuit for pubescent girls in an age of Snapchat and Fortnite, it’s worth considering that hobbyhorsing is on the rise, having already spread to Sweden, Russia and the Netherlands.

Harry Potter inspires new fast-growing sport, Quidditch

The sport inspired by Harry Potter’s wizarding game continues to evolve worldwide with 40,000 players in 25 countries
Twenty-five years ago the word quidditch barely existed in the English language. Today, not only is this term instantly-recognisable to legions of Harry Potter fans as the primary sport in J K Rowling’s wizarding world, but it has also evolved into a real-life, international sporting activity.

Quidditch started out in the early 2000s as a sporting activity for American Potter-aficionados eager to recreate the magical broomstick competitions from their childhood tales. However, over the years the sport, which consists of athletes running around with a broom between their legs, has become a popular game among students and Potter enthusiasts alike.

The game as a mix of handball, rugby and dodge ball, and has been stated that it’s “very community orientated” and “extremely inclusive”. One of the primary rules states that a team – consisting of 21 players but with only seven allowed on the pitch at any one time – can only have four people of one gender playing during the match. The rules are very complicated, but you can learn more here

There is now a Premier League in the UK, which has just added a number of European teams and their finals weekend takes place at the 20,000 seater AJ Bell Stadium in Salford 24th- 25th August

Canicross sees human and dog leashed together for training runs and racing

Canicross is an an activity described simply as “running off-road with your dog”, although in reality there are many differences from just grabbing a lead and starting to jog. The most important distinction is that in canicross your dog runs in front and effectively pulls you along. This is possible because both of you wear a harness – your dog around its shoulders, you around your waist – and you’re attached together by a stretchy bungee cord. Also, you run on paths in greenspaces which places less pressure on the dogs’ paws.

The pace of Canicross doesn’t need to be fast and people of all ages and fitness levels can participate

So, this is all simple stuff. You decide whether you want to innovate and move forward or stay as you are and slide downwards.

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