The genesis of swamp soccer was in 1998, when creative town officials in Hyrynsalmi cooked up a festival-like event that would make use of the area’s vast swamplands. Thirteen teams showed up for the first tournament. Since then, the competitive field has grown to about 200 teams.And many others: hobby horse riding, sauna sitting, mosquito killing, air guitar contests, and wife carrying, in which the winner received the wife's weight in beer.
The recent matches — six-on-six, with 10-minute halves — were played on 20 fields of varying squishiness, spread out over 50 acres of swamp. Finnish rock echoed through the woods.
People striding on seemingly firm ground would disappear suddenly into the soft earth, as if descending a stairway. Some tottered on their hands and knees, like babies. Others stood still, until they were waist-deep in muck. The scores were generally low. Many of the players were drunk.
It’s hard to imagine an uglier version of the Beautiful Game.
“You play, you lose, you win — no one cares,” said Sami Korhonen, 25, of Kajaani, who was playing in the tournament for the ninth time. “The whole game is so tough, you’re totally wiped out when you’re done.”
Personally I think this is much healthier than getting obsessed about the doings of millionaire professionals. Sport is supposed to be fun.