Roll up, wait a minute: Is that Myanmar skating by?
IT is, potentially, the world’s most underrated sport. And now Myanmar is ready to roll up and join the fun. On November 22, the 3rd Asian Roll Ball Championships in Thailand will see Myanmar competing in the strange and beautiful game of roll ball.
A niche sport that combines aspects of football, basketball and roller hockey, roll ball consists of a competition between two teams of six players each. The teams wear roller skates while attempting to move a basketball-like ball up the court and throw it into a keeper-protected net similar in size and shape to a football goal.
Though it appears to have a microscopic international imprint in the sporting community, roller ball videos online have as many as 30,000 or 40,000 views, suggesting that the nascent competition might be growing in popularity. Considering it combines ice hockey’s reckless endangerment with basketball’s strategies and football’s scoring mentality, it’s easy to see how the sport attracts curiosity.
According to the International Roll Ball Federation, roll ball was invented by Raju R Dabhade, an Indian school teacher/roller skating aficionado, in the early 2000s. He worked with colleagues to experiment with the game during gym classes at the local middle school, eventually formalizing the rules and sharing the sport with “the world of sports” in February 2003.
Thirteen years later, 28 countries have joined the International Roll Ball Federation, including 13 Asian countries. The Myanmar Skate Association was invited by the federation to join this year’s Asian Championships with hopes that the experience might lead to national roll ball team development.
U Lwin Latt, who served as the MSA president, said the opportunity offers a previously unexplored opportunity for the group.
“We were only really doing extreme sports, but we’ll compete in this game for the first time,” he said. “We’re intrigued to play this type of team sport.”
He added that the MSA recruited 11 highly aggressive inline skaters for the international tournament and has been training for weeks leading up to their debut on the court.
“We selected aggressive skaters because their style aligns closely with the kind of style this game requires,” U Lwin Latt said. “We hope to gain a lot of experience.”
In total, 17 nations will compete in the championships. The Asian Roll Ball Federation is sponsoring hotels and meals for Myanmar’s team during the trip, according to U Lwin Latt.
Two teams compete in a roll ball match, one of the world’s youngest organised sports.
Players must dribble the ball, as in basketball, but then throw it into a net more similar to football.