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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 9 August, 2020

9 alternative sports to try out this summer

With the sun shining, there’s no excuse not to get out and try something new.

American Football

Image: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Who: The Irish American Football Association

What: There are currently 15 teams playing fully-kitted American football in Ireland across two divisions, the Shamrock Bowl Conference (established teams) and IAFL-1 (new teams).

Where: With 15 teams spread across the north and south of Ireland, there’s sure to be a team near you.

When: The Shamrock Bowl season ends in July but the IAFL-1 continues until August.

Why: With positions for the fast and the fat, American football really is a sport for everyone. Most teams accept rookies and all have fully qualified coaches.


Vimeo Credit: DCTV

Who: Baseball Ireland

What: Baseball, in it’s current guise, has been played in Ireland since 1995 and benefits from having a wonderful National Baseball Facility in Clondalkin, West Dublin.

Where: Most teams are Dublin based but there are also adult and youth teams spread around the country.

When: Baseball is played throughout the summer in Ireland and well into autumn.

Why: Baseball Ireland have put a particular emphasis on youth development so it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce your kids to a new sport.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Image: Twitter/John Kavanagh

Who: Irish Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association

What: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) is a form or martial art where the aim is to put your opponent in a disadvantageous position by means of throws, trips, sweeps and various groundwork manoeuvres.

Where: There are many gyms with qualified practitioners who welcome rookies around Ireland.

When: Events take place all year long.

Why: BJJ plays a key role in Mixed Martial Arts, the fastest growing combat sport in the world.


Image: INPHO/Barry Chambers

Who: Cricket Ireland

What: One of the fastest growing team sports in Ireland thanks to the international team’s recent exploits.

Where: There are dozens of clubs, playing a various levels in all four provinces.

When: It depends on the weather but the the season usually runs from April through to September.

Why: Most clubs have two or three teams for those with different levels of ability so new players are always welcome.

Ice Hockey

YouTube Credit: Ryan Hellyer

Who: Irish Ice Hockey Association

What: One of the toughest, fastest games in the world and it’s all played on ice.

Where: Though there are only a handful of clubs, ice hockey has a hardcore following in this country.

When: The national team’s games can take place throughout the year.

Why: You learn to have the grace of a ballerina, the speed of a sprinter and the power of a wrestler all in one sport.

Kite Surfing

kite surfing
Image: Flickr/Bertknot

Who: Irish Kite Surfing Association

What: Kite surfing uses the power of the wind to drive a rider across the water on a kiteboard and participants can learn many different styles including freestyle and wave-riding.

Where: Kite surfing Ireland have information on the following beaches: Sutton, Dollymount, Elly Bay and Banna Strand. However, wherever you participate, you should read their rules of the sea.

When: The season usually begins around March and stretches right the way through to November.

Why: With so many different riding styles and a multitude of schools providing lessons, kite surfing can be a safe and fun activity for everyone.

Olympic Handball

YouTube Credit: olympic

Who: Irish Olympic Handball Association

What: A mixture of basketball and indoor football, Olympic Handball is fast paced and high-scoring.

Where: You can find a list of all Olympic Handball clubs, spread across the four corners of Ireland, here.

When: With different age groups and male and female competitions, handball events take place throughout the year.

Why: A couple of Olympic Handball training sessions and you'll be fitter than you ever were in your life.


Image: INPHO/Photosport/Andrew Cornaga

Who: Triathlon Ireland

What: One of the most popular endurance sports in the world, thousands of Irish people compete in triathlons every year.

Where: While you can train yourself, the best way to get started is probably through a club, a list of which can be found here.

When: Triathlon Ireland have a full range of events, covering all levels, all year round.

Why: Because who doesn't like swimming, cycling and running in the company of like minded people?

Ultimate Frisbee

YouTube Credit: brodiesmith21

Who: Irish Flying Disc Association

What: A combination of the skills required for five-a-side soccer, basketball and American football, teams must pass the disc between themselves before attempting to score.

Where: There are schools, colleges and club teams popping up all over the country.

When: Club and national events run right the way through to September.

Why: The sport could soon be added to the Olympics, now is your shot at a gold medal.

Another Nigel Owens classic: ‘I hope you two are not going to be sharing a room on the tour’

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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