Extreme sports in France and Belgium


Sport is the Esperanto of all human races. [Jean Giraudoux] French writer 1882-1944

I was resigned to write an encyclopedic article about the most popular sports in Belgium and France. Soccer, tennis, cycling, basketball… Überboring for me and for my lovely readers…

“Sports?” I decided to erase my first sleeping pill article and got back to work: go go go extreme sports! Truth be told, it’s about extreme sports on the scale of awesomeness: the most boring and the most awesome! Suit up!

The flop

This regional sport in Belgium is a mixture of tennis, cricket and heavy drinking: the balle pelote. On a field of 72 meters, two teams of 5 players throw a ball 50 gram ball at each other’s face. Points are scored according to obscure rules (to be read here). That’s everything I could figure out. I then tried to clarify the whole thing by means of Youtube: an important part of the game seems to be crossing the field to and fro, then stopping to watch the sky a few moments. Strange. However, we must admit that catching a ball (5 cm in diameter) thrown at a few tens of meters / second is quite a challenge. The article evokes of a large number of balls lost in the course of the game; but as it is vital to drink throughout the game (and not only water), the approximate accuracy of the throws can be deduced.

(if you don’t get it at all, don’t worry, me neither).

His French counterpart is called the “ball on the tambourine” ; played almost exclusively in the Hérault, it opposes two teams of five players. Instead of hitting the ball with a glove, they use a tambourine.

The top

The film Yamakasi aroused the interest of many in this urban sport. In the film, written by Luc –wait for it- Besson, seven young men practice a new sport combining climbing, long jump and running: the so-called parkour. What’s so peculiar about this one? The course goes through a myriad of improvised obstacles: balconies, terraces, roof surfing and jumping from a slab of concrete to a guardrail are all commonplace. The whole thing is wrapped up in in a philosophy of personal development. The discipline has enjoyed much media coverage thanks to amateur videos on the net.

(2 minutes 37 that will make you see the city from another angle)

Finally, a sport who’s value is vastly underappreciated: the bossaball. Take beach volleyball (which is already one of the most enjoyable sports to play or watch), add two trampolines and a couple of samba players… Your awesom-o-meter just exploded? That’s normal, such a quantity of fun is hardly conceivable… Beach volleyball + trampoline + music = I’ll let you enjoy the video!

Q: Where does it come from?

A: it was was invented in Be.legendary.gium! Awesome, I told you!

I am not saying that this sport is practiced every day in Belgium, but at least you know where it was invented (i.e. not in Brazil!).

For those interested, the most popular sports in Belgium include tennis, cycling and football (Diables Rouges/Rode Duivels = Red Devils). For France, please add rugby and handball, where the Blues (French national team) are quite strong. Voilà.

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