Swamp Soccer Comes to Scotland

By: RTV/HUTC/CBS
By: RTV/HUTC/CBS

The annual Swamp Soccer World Cup took place in Blairmore over the weekend, bringing the bizarre and dirty sport to Argyll on the prestine west coast of Scotland.

What is swamp soccer? Take a five-a-side size pitch, remove all the grass and add gallons of water, then you have the ideal conditions for this fledging extreme sport. The players require real guts, coordination, determination and a very good washing powder.

Originated from the swamps of Finland, where the Finns found the sport to be an excellent means of training for cross country skiing.

But now swamp soccer is fast becoming a worldwide phenomenon, and the yearly tournaments have been held across the globe including countries such as Brazil, the Netherlands and China.

The championship from June 29-30 was open to everyone over the age of 17 years old with teams of all male and mixed.

No training is required to play this strenuous game. All that is needed is a sense of fun and a fearless spirit when it comes to mud, mess and mayhem.

"I promote it as a very fun, unusual and enclosed event, just people playing football in the mud. It allows adults to be kids again. You know, they can run around and play in the mud, and you can see in the background people are having a great time laughing, really enjoying it," explained Stuard Miller, Swamp Soccer World Cup organizer.

With names such as "Sporting Mudpie", "Buried FC", "Real Manky" and "Mudmunchers", the tournament could not be anything but fun.

The event saw 20 teams packing their home and away kits for a dirty weekend in Scotland. The game is played on a specially prepared pitch - essentially a wetland area that had been churned and flooded to produce the swamp.

"Fortunately we start off very wet ground in the very West of Scotland, so we got wetlands to begin with. We bring in JCB's and churn up the ground, and then we motivate it to level it out, and then we actually use a local source in this case. It's the river and we flood the pitches with the water from there and that creates the swamp, and as you can see when people go in and play it, it mixes it up like a big sponge cake," said Miller.

Each team consisted of 6 players, but teams can draw on an unlimited supply of substitutes throughout the match and each game lasts 24 minutes.

To keep the ball from sinking into the bog, the players must continue moving around the pitch.

"The best tactic is to keep the ball in the air, and the clever teams realize that. You know, if you keep it in the air it doesn't get stuck in the mud, and that requires a lot of skill and stamina to do that," said Miller.

But this key to success is much easier said than done.

"It's very very hard. It's tiring. It's an effort to run especially on this first pitch here. It's a bit more of a swamp than the other pitch, so trying to kick the ball or anything is difficult," said Chris Russell, one of the players. "I've been hit and punched and gouged and head held in the water. But it's fun, good fun."

"It's hard. You got to have a really strong core. You got to really drive those legs. I've been doing a bit of a squat program, so I really glad I did that. It's really got me ready for it," agreed another player, Rob Lane.

The rules of the game are also different from the norm. Players are prohibited from changing their shoes during the game, and corner kicks, penalties, and throw-ins are taken by drop kick.

Spectators cheered from the sideline during the physical game, which turned the players into mud figures.

But those involved claimed it was extremely fun.

"This the best weekend I have had in a long time, and the weather is so glorious as well, that makes it extra special. I am going to dry off in no time," said an one mud covered player .

Team AK from Scotland won the Swamp Soccer World Cup, beating Deportivo Lack of Talent in the final.


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