157. American Football

I really wasn’t expecting it, but my first ever american football watching experience was in Denmark of all plcaes! My host brother is really in to his American Football, so we went to watch one of his games. He plays for the ‘Horsens Stallions’ with a number of his schoolmates, the team ranging in age from 16-19. With that age group and probably that fact that it is a Danish team, they were a lot smaller than the players you see on TV in the States! Being from a fiercly proud rugby nation (go the All Blacks) it was pretty much impossible for me not to make continual comparisons to a game of rugby.

First, and most notable, is all the gear they wear. To me it really seems superfluous and kindof makes me laugh. The ref seems to stop them all the minute they get close as well, so it reallymakes me feel like they are being pussies! Second, with all their plastic armour and helmets, throughout the whole game you hear this continual clackity clack of plastic hitting plastic! Third, in a game of rugby you can’t throw the ball forward, so players push ahead in a line as much as they can whilst passing the ball backwards. In american football, while I’m sure there are tactics and patterns and whatnot, to a rugby watchign newby like me, they seem to just scatter in every possible direction and it looks all very chaotic.

Finally, probably due to their helmets and armour, and I assume no rules prohibiting who you can tackle, they seem to just tackle/headbutt/knock down any old person, as they wish. Being schoolboys half the time it seemed that were just doing it for the hell of it too.

I’m sure it is tactical in many ways, but to me it just seemed like a whole bunch of boys running off in opposite directions and headbutting eachother. I also still maintain they need to harden up and get rid of their armour. Sorry America, but I’m still a rugby girl.

128. Teaching and Learning National Sports

It all started whilst watching a game of Handball. A huge deal in Denmark, and I made a casual comment that it reminds me of Netball, the sport I play in New Zealand. The conversation then turned to discussing the rules with my host mum, with a view to finding out whether it would be easy to teach one of the kid’s classes at school, i.e. explain the rules to a bunch of Danish ten year olds. The conclusion was no, not really. Netball is all about sticking to the myriad rules. A fast paced game, the ball changes hands between teams very quickly as players are routinely caught out on breaking the rules. Pretty tricky to explain with my lack of Danish and their lack of English we decided!

So next we were onto the possibility of teaching them Back Yard Cricket. Back yard cricket rules are simple, fun and fast paced. Unlike the full game, which bizarrely enough can go on for 5 days. Snore. Whilst looking up videos to demonstrate, I came across “that” cricket game. The most famous game in NZ history. That every kiwi knows about, even if, like me, they still don’t understand the rules because every time a kind gentleman takes it upon himself to explain them, I can’t help but zone out. Sorry Cricket fans. It’s a lost cause. Nonetheless I am still just as offended as any kiwi by this horrible display of bad sportsmanship! And probably because the offence was committed by an Australian.

Whilst sharing this important historical event, and all the drama surrounding other such sport related events in Kiwi history, like the Springbok Tour (1981 was obviously a contentious year in NZ sport), we were interrupted by a certain 10 year old’s crusade to convince the family to get a pet rabbit. (It reminded me of when my younger sister wanted a pet rabbit and my father made her fill out an application form and despite a very valiant effort, he couldn’t keep a straight face while she very seriously filled it out, attempting to prove that mum and dad wouldn’t wind up looking after it. Too funny). This lead to MY education on what is obviously Denmark’s most important sport: Bunny Show Jumping.

Apparently I caused a wee spot of offence by laughing through the entire video.

115. The Giro D’Italia

The Giro D’Italia for some reason starts in the middle of Denmark. Possibly to do with the highway that goes direct from here to Italy. On Monday, it was coming by about 2kms from my house. I thought it might make for some good motivation to go for a run and stop and watch. As I left the house, Ratata, the family dog, followed me along on my jog, which I didn’t think twice about as he’s been doing that a lot lately.

On arrival at the spot where they go past, there were houses decorated with pink balloons (official colour) and quite the crowd of people. The road was roped off, there were police on motorbikes going up and down and there was even a little army man making sure cars didn’t go past. Later, on the jog home I saw a fully uniformed police man pissing in a bush. I thought public urination was illegal..?

Anyhow, when I arrived, I suddenly realised just how much of an inconvenience it is to bring a dog without a leash. As he was roaming along, sniffing and pissing on things and running around the middle of the road, a look of sheer horror spread across my face as I imagined him running out in the middle of the race, bowling all the cyclists over. It seems I wasn’t the only one imagining that scenario as everyone else seemed to be giving me dirty looks. I didn’t mean to bring him along!!

Holding on to Ratata for dear life

So after spending a good 5 minutes trying to coax him over to me I sat him down and held on to his collar for dear life, while he was trying to get away and go on his own little dog adventures. After a ridiculously long procession of police motorbikes and vans selling merchandise (I’m fairly sure there were actually more police motorbikes than race entrants), the cyclists came whizzing past while I tried my hardest to wrestle with a Labrador who really wanted to join in.

They went by incredibly quickly, so I got a little excited with the continuous shutter function on my camera. I was also surprised to see how it seems like every cyclist has at least eight spare bikes being driven along behind.

87. Helsinki’s Olympic STADIUM

Helsinki was host to the 1952 Olympic Games and it seems they are most proud of their Olympic Stadium. Given Stadium’s are all the rage in Dunedin, I thought I’d go check it out. I’m no Stadium expert, but I guess it was kind of impressive given it was made in the 1950s.

But to salvage a quite uninteresting destination, I discovered this fun fact: Since March 2007, a Eurasian Eagle-Owl has been spotted living in and around the stadium. On June 6, 2007, during a Euro 2008 qualifying match, the owl delayed play by ten minutes after perching on a goalpost.

58. Mini Golf In An Apartment Building

There’s a place in downtown Aarhus that has both a cheap bar and free mini golf for students every Thursday night. Sounded like a winning combination to me! I did briefly wonder where in town there would be space, but this town is full of surprises so I didn’t give it too much thought.

Having played mini golf on many an occasion, and even having worked at a golf course, I certainly had an idea in my head of what a mini-golf course should look like. Being the middle of winter, it was no surprise to find out that it was actually indoors, but the true difference was in the fact that it spanned multiple levels of a very Danish apartment building!

Highly novel. As we weaved between rooms, many featuring seating areas and bars, and traversed from hole-to-hole up flights of stairs, it proved to be a very entertaining and highly space-efficient, Scandinavian take on the sport!

Just strollin’ round the bar with my golf club

More ludicrous deals involving purchasing 10 shots at once

14. Watch a game of Handball

Handball, being the national sport, is incredibly popular in Denmark. I had previously giggled at the games being on in the bars. However, this evening Denmark was against Serbia in the finals so I thought it only fitting that I get amongst the festivities with my flatmate.

I have always found handball just a little bit comical. When the game first started all I could think of was the movie Dodgeball. As it went on, the game was actually incredibly gripping. While it may look a little silly at first (Rugby probably does to people who have never seen it), it is a really fast-paced and exciting game to watch. It actually reminded me more of watching a netball game. The entire game was neck-and-neck, with the teams never more than a few goals apart. Very tense.

My impression of handball is that it is essentially a cross between Dodgeball (the way they play in the film, anyway), Basketball and Netball. To form your own impressions without my non-expert opinions butchering the sport, here is a youtube clip.

The European championships were being held in Serbia, and apparently the fans are so intense about it that in the semi-finals people were shining lazer-pointers in the goal heeper’s eyes, throwing coins at the opposition and throwing full beer cans. In Croatia (who was the team on the receiving end of said abuse), it is apparently written in the constitution that their top player never has to pay taxes in his life. Even after he retires. As in he is personally named, and none of they other players. I have no idea how he pulled that off, sounds a tad corrupt to me…

In the end Denmark won the championships and at the same time qualified for the Olympics so a celebratory can of Royal Beer was in order! Perhaps instead of joining the volleyball club I might pick up handball…