Roll up, wait a minute: Is that Myan­mar skat­ing by?

The Myanmar Times - - Sport - KYAW ZIN HLAING kyawz­inhlaing@mm­times.com

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.

Pho­tos: In­ter­na­tional Roll Ball Fed­er­a­tion

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.

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