Old football games

Old football Football Games

Old football:

Classic football games, leading to the modern football:

Cambridge rules

Albert Pell from the Rugby School was organising football matches at the Cambridge University in 1839. Each team had different rules, and the compromised rules had to be found in order to play against each other. The game under the rules made by the Cambridge University Foot Ball Club Laws was first played at the Parker’s Piece, Cambridge.

The Cambridge rules were first drafted formally at Cambridge University, England by the committee members including H. de Winton and J. C. Thring from the Shrewsbury School in 1848. J. C. Thring who took the important role in the establishment of the Cambridge rules also invented another famous football code called the Uppingham rules (the Simplest Game) in 1862.

The Cambridge rules introduced the remarkable features, which can be seen in modern Association football, such as goal-kick, throw-in, and disallowing ball-carrying in hands. In 1863, the Cambridge University Foot Ball Club made modifications to the rules set in 1848. The changes include that opposing team players need to stay away at least 10 yards when free-kick is taken.

In the Cambridge rules, physical contacts are reduced. The forward passing is allowed while disallowing holding the ball in hands apart from exceptions. These elements of the Cambridge rules accelerated the development of ball passing by feet.

The clubs who were in the discussion to form the sporting organisation adopted many rules from the Cambridge rules and also from the Sheffield rules to set the unified rules, and officially established the FA (Football Association) in 1863. Later, this football code started getting called as the “Association football (Soccer)”.

Sheffield rules

The Sheffield Rules were first invented by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest for the Sheffield Football Club that was founded in 1857.

The first edition of the Sheffield rules were drawn in 1858. The Sheffield Football Association adopted the rules in 1867. The staff of the Sheffield FC attended the meeting in London as observers when the Football Association was formed. 8 rule changes out of 12 made by the Football Association between 1863 and 1870 were from the Sheffield rules.

Vital features of the Sheffield rules, which can be found in the modern Association football include corner-kick, throw-in, and free kick. The goalposts had a crossbar. Scoring directly from throw-ins and free-kicks were not allowed. Holding and pulling opposite players are disallowed. The half time and the swap of the ends were introduced in1862. The offside rule wasn’t included to the Sheffield rules until 1863.

The ball handling was banned except the fair catch. Later the fair catch was removed, and it led to the use of the head in the air. Subsequently the concepts for the positions such as goalkeeper and forward were born. Since there wasn’t offside rule at the beginning, the position called the kick through was created, that had the mission to stay hanging in front of the goal and waiting for a ball up front. The cover goal was the position to countermeasure the kick through. Its role was man-marking the kick through, and it may be just like the stopper of the modern Association football.

The Sheffield Football Association limited the use of hands to within 3 yards (2.7m) of the goal in 1871 and later within the own half. The Football Association created the designated goalkeeper position, who can use hands anywhere on the pitch.

The Sheffield Football Association eventually got affiliated with the Football Association in 1871.

UK school games existing till date:

Eton field game

Eton College drafted the own football rules in 1815, which was the first written football code in the UK. The Eton College established 2 ball games, and 1 of them is the Eton field game.

The ball used is round shape and handling the ball is not allowed. It is similar to the Association football. The way to score goal is like Association football but there is no designated position of goalkeeper. Another way to score is the rouge. A goal is worth 3 points. A rouge is worth 5 points. The Eton field game appears like the maul of Rugby union at times.

The offside rule and scrum are more like Rugby football. The positions can be roughly categorised into the bully and the behinds. The bully can operate similarly to the forwards of the Rugby football. The bully is made up of 3 corners, 2 sideposts, 1 post, 1 bup and 1 fly. The behinds are 2 shorts and 1 long. The gameplay can be often the kicking between the opposing shorts.

Eton wall game

1 of 2 football codes the Eaton College invented is the Eton wall game, which may appear similar to the Rugby union at times.

The ground is 110m long x 5m wide and along the curved wall made of bricks, which is the integral part of the game. The game appears like the maul and ruck of the Rugby union moving along the wall. The audience can be on the wall where you may get the best view of the gameplay.

A match held annually on the Saint Andrew’s day is the tradition. The Eton wall game is also played early morning on the Ascension day. Both teams try to reach opposite’s ends called the calx. A player can earn a shy, which is worth 1 point. A goal is worth 9 points. Kicked goal is worth 5 points. 1 game consists of 2 halve of 25 minutes respectively.

Harrow football (Footer)

The Harrow football has many of the old elements from the Association football, and mainly played on feet. The ball can be caught in hands if it’s directly from the kick without touching the ground. The ball is much larger than the one for the Association football. Players are allowed to use head, but due the weight of the ball, they tend to use shoulders instead. Throw-in can be done by 1 hand. But it’s hard to throw very far due to its large size and weight. The ball flows across the field and players run around, and the gameplay appears similar to the Association football.

The specific tackle used in Harrow Football is called the boshing. The base-kick is similar to the goal-kick. The corner-throw is taken instead of the corner-kick. Player need to stay at least 3 yards away from the base line to receive the ball from the corner-throws. The offside rule applies to the Harrow football. The rule called yards is that the players can catch and kick the ball in specific ways.

1 team consists of 11 players. The positions can be roughly categorised to the back, the forward and the wing. The backs are also called the threes.

The base at each end consists of 2 goalposts which are 6 yards (5.5 m) apart. They don’t have the crossbar. The only marking within the field is the halfway line. The pitch size of the Harrow football is 100yd to130yd (90m to 120m) long x 50yd to 100yd (45m to 90m) wide. 1 game consists of 2 halves of 40 minutes.

The Harrow football is also called the Footer at the Harrow school. The games of Harrow football are played by the students of the Harrow school and its old boys every year.

Winchester College football (Winkies, WinCoFo)

In early days, the Winchester Football was played with very few rules on the Kingsgate Street, Winchester. The rules have changed over the time. The venue was eventually moved to the grass field of the Saint Catherine’s Hill. Later it was moved to the Meads and the Palmer Swamp.

The pitch of the Winchester College football is called the canvas. The size of canvas is about 80m x 15m. The net fence of 250cm height is placed along the both sides. These nets are also called the canvas, and it prevents the ball from going out of the pitch too often. The rope held up by the posts at the height of 100cm also extends along each side of the field. The pitch is very narrow, which resembles the street where the game originates.

The end of the pitch is called the Worms where players can score points. A behind is worth 1 point. A conversion is 2 points. A goal is 3 points. The game can end with high score often.

Number of players per team varies such as 6, 10 and 15 players. Positions can be categorised to the kick (full-back), the hotwatch (half-back) and the hot (scrum). 1 team can kick the ball just once until the other team touches the ball.

The round shaped ball is used, and its size is just like the Association football. The gameplay appears similar to the Association football as well. However, it’s more like end to end kicking rather than passing. The scrum similar to the one of the Rugby union can also be seen.

The houses of Winchester College have 3 groups, the OTH, the Commoners and the College. The teams wear different colours to distinguish the sides. The OTH wears brown and white stripe. The Commoners wears red and white stripe. The College wears blue and white stripe. The captain for each group is in charge of the team selection.

There are number of games held every year and the main event among them is the 15-a-side game between the OTH and the Commoners.

Ancient and medieval football games existing till date:


Haxey Hood

The Haxey Hood is held in Haxey, North Lincolnshire, England on 5th or 6th of January every year. The game begins around 3 pm. A leather tube is used instead of a ball. The gameplay appears like the huge driving maul of Rugby union and pushing each other. There are no kicking or punching. It is reasonably peaceful game although it is getting pushed very hard. This is seen as traditional festival and number of participants is not limited. The leather tube called the hoot to be delivered to 1 of 4 pubs there. The hood is kept there for 1 year until the New Year’s Eve.

The origin of the Haxey Hood is from the story which happened in the 14th century. The Lady de Mowbray lost her hood by wind and 13 farmers searched and 1 of them found the hood. This farmer who actually found the hood was called the fool as he didn’t hand it to the lady directly but passed it via the other worker who was praised as the lord. Since then, this tradition has survived hundreds of years. There are 13 characters from the original story, who are the Lord, the Fool, and 11 Boggins, dressing in the costumes and leading the event.


The Bottle-kicking is played in Hallaton, Leicestershire on Easter Monday every year. This tradition of the Bottle-kicking started after 2 ladies were saved from a running bull. In ahead of the game, a parade takes place around the town and the pie is served by the Hallaton vicar. The game officially starts when the bottle is dropped on the field for the third time. The bottle is a small wooden barrel. 3 bottles are used, and 2 of them contain beer. And the last one is made of solid wood and called the dummy.

The Bottle-kicking is contested on the field between streams which are 1 mile (1.6km) apart. It is a goal when a team cross a stream with a bottle. It is just like a try for Rugby football. And the game restarts with another bottle. The game can go very rough and people often get seriously injured. People drink the beer from the bottle after the game. The villagers of Hallaton suggest that the Bottle-kicking inspired the birth of Rugby football.

Shrove Tuesday games

The Shrove Tuesday games are held in February or March every year on the day before the Ash Wednesday. There is no specific field defined and ball can go all over the town and even into the river and the play still continues. The ball can be moved by various methods including kicking and handling. The bunch of people pushing to the ball appear as the driving maul of Rugby union at times. The game can also go open-play. The Shrove Tuesday games is said to have the tradition of at least 700 years.

Royal Shrovetide Football (Ashbourne game, Hugball)

The Royal Shrovetide Football is played in Ashbourne, Derbyshire annually on the Ash Wednesday and the day before. The history of the game goes back to around 17th century. The game starts from the town centre and once the ball is goaled, game restarts from the town centre. The ball can be kicked and handled. But mostly played by hands since it’s packed with full of people and there is no much space for kicking the ball around. And it becomes like the driving maul of Rugby union, which is called the hug.

2 teams are called the Up’Ards (upwards) and the Down’Ards (downwards). The Up’Ards members are mainly the people from the north of the river, Henmore Brook. The Down’Ards have people from the south side of the river Henmore. 2 towns in Derby have been playing Shrovetide football, and it can be the origin of the term derby for the sport match between local teams.

The goal posts of each sides are 3 miles (4.8 km) apart, and each team intends to take the ball to their own goal. Sturston Mill is where the goal posts of the Up’Ards are. Down’Ards targets the goal at Clifton Mill. Now the goal is replaced with milestone and player hit a ball 3 times in a row to the milestone to score. The ball is round shape and larger than an Association football.

The British Royal family members attended the Ashbourne game number of occasions in the past.

Scoring the Hales (The Alnwick Shrovetide Football Match)

The traditional football game played in Alnwick, Northumberland is called the Scoring the Hales. It used to be played on the street. The venue was switched to the field between the River Aln and the Alnwick Castle in 1820’s. The encounter between the parishes of the Saint Michael and the Saint Paul held in 1762 is the earliest known game.

Each team has several hundreds of players. The Scoring the Hales appears like the Association football. The goals are decorated and approximately 400 yards (365m) apart. Traditionally the Duke of Northumberland have the throw in the opening ceremony and kicks off the game. The team can win by scoring the first 2 hales (goals). After the game, the person who threw the ball farthest into the river can retain the ball. Some players go into the river and swimming.

Sedgefield Ball Game

The Shrove Tuesday football held in Sedgefield, County Durham is called the Shrovetide Ball Game. It was traditionally the encounter between the mechanics and the agriculturists of the local area. Aim of the Ball Game is to ally the ball at the goals located at the ends of the village. The game starts from the bull ring of the town centre. The ball to be brought back to the bull ring in the town centre once the ball is allied. The first person who get the ball to the pub gets a free drink.

Atherstone Ball Game

The Shrove Tuesday football event held annually on Shrove Tuesday in Atherstone, Warwickshire is called the Atherstone Ball Game. The game was played between the Leicestershire and the Warwickshire in 1199. A bag of gold was used as the official ball and the Warwickshire won. The ball used today is very large. The game takes place on the street of the town for 2 hours. The ball is dropped from the building at 3 pm to start the game. Punt kick is the main way of moving the ball. It can be like the ruck and maul of Rugby union at times. The person who has the ball when the whistle is blown at 5 pm is the winner. The game gets intensified toward the last minute. The Ball Game committee is in charge of running the Atherstone Ball Game.

Uppies and Downies

The Uppies and the Downies is played in Workington, West Cumbria, England at Easter every year. Workington is the costal town, and east part is higher land and getting lower towards west part. Therefore, The Uppies are the team from the East side. The Downies consist of people from the West side.

The Ball is circumference 21 inches (53cm), weight 2.5 pounds (1100kg), which is large and heavy. The objective of the game is to hail (goal) the ball to opposite goal. The goal for Uppies is situated at the gates of Workington Hall Parklands. The goal for the Downies is the capstan at the harbor. The game can be very tough and people push each other. The ball carrier can run into the open space at times as well.

Shrove Tuesday Football Ceremony of the Purbeck Marblers (Masonic ceremonial)

The football event held in Corfe Castle, Dorset is the Shrove Tuesday Football Ceremony of the Purbeck Marblers. The formation was initiated by marblers and stonecutters of local area. People in the Fox Inn West Street wait until the Corfe Church chimes at noon, and start advancing to the Town Hall. It is played by feet and there is no use of hands.


The Cnapan is the Celtic medieval football game originates in west part of Wales.

The game is played between 2 parishes. A small ball made of wood is used. Oil or animal fat is put on surface before the game starts. So that it makes the ball movement more interesting and hard to catch. Each parish side intends to take the ball to the own church.

Hurling the Silver Ball (Hurling, Cornish hurling)

The Hurling the Silver Ball is played in Cornwall is said to have the origin in the Celtic game.

It has similarity with the Cnapan, which is played in Wales. The ball is made of silver. The ball circumference is approximately 9 inch (23cm) and its weight is around 20oz (567g).

There are stone circles from the Bronze age around Minions. The tale of the Hurlers stone circles is that people played a hurling and profaned the Lords day, and they were turned to stones.

Saint Columb Major hurling

The Saint Columb Major hurling is held in Saint Columb Major, Cornwall on Shrove Tuesday and the second Saturday following. The game starts by ball-throw in the Market square at 4:30pm. It is contested between the Townsmen and the Countrymen of the parish. 2 goals made of granite are located 2 miles apart (3.2km). The base of an old Celtic cross is the goal for the Town. The shallow stone trough is the goal for the Country side. The objective of the game is to score goal. Players carry the ball in hands, pass it and tackle for it. The game may last 1 hour or less. The winner will be carried back on shoulders to the Market square. At the night after the game, the celebration with beer called the silver beer takes place.

Saint Ives hurling

The Saint Ives hurling takes place on Feast Monday every year. The game begins at 10:30am. The mayor throws a silver ball to the beach from the church. The person who hold the ball at noon is the winner and takes the ball to the Guildhall and get 5 shillings, which is the tradition. The Hurling the Silver Ball at the Saint Ives has been played since 1000 years ago at least.

Bodmin hurling

The Hurling the Silver Ball is held in Bodmin once in a while. The Rotary Club of Bodmin runs the Bodmin hurling. The mayor of Bodmin throws a silver ball to the Salting Pool to start the game. The winner earns 10 pounds.

Kirkwall Ba Game

The Kirkwall Ba Game is the Ball Game held in Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland on the Christmas day and the New Year’s day. It’s played on the streets of the Royal Burgh of Kirkwall.

The games start from the Mercat Cross on the Kirk Green by the Saint Magnus Cathedral.

2 sides, the Up-the-Gates (Uppies) and the Doon-the-Gates (Doonies) attempt to reach the goals. The winner can retain the ball after the game. A Ba game ball is round shape and similar size to the Association football.

The record about the Kirkwall Ba game from late 18th century can be found but it was played much earlier than that. The tale of Sigurd and the Orkneyinga saga suggest that the Kirkwall Ba Game may be related to the folklore.

There are no written official rules but people are supposed to play under the certain manner understood by the local community. The scrum appears like the driving maul of Rugby union. Many people are pushed each other on the street and tension can be intensified.

The Men’s Ba has no age limitation. The Boys Ba is for the boys aged 15 years or younger. The Women’s Ba was played several times after the World War 2.

Scottish Borders Ba Game

The Scottish Borders Ba Game is held on the streets. A ball used for the Scottish Borders Ba Game is small just like a handball and it tends to be played by hands. The history of the Scottish Borders Ba Game goes back to at least 11th century.

Duns Ba Game

The Ba Game is played at the Market Square, Duns, Scottish Borders during the Duns Summer Festival. 3 small balls are thrown to begin the game. It is contested between the side made up of married men and the side of the bachelors. The Duns Ba Game is mainly played by hands. The game finish in 30 minutes or so.

Jedburgh Ba Game

The Jedburgh Ba Game begins at the Mercat Cross in the town centre of Jedburgh, Scottish Borders. The uppies that are from south of the Mercat Cross throws a ball above the Castlegate to hail (score). The downies are made up with the people from north, and roll the ball above a drain to hail. The laddies’ game starts at noon. The men’s game starts 2 hours later. The gameplay appears like the ruck, maul and ball-running of Rugby union. The ball is small handy size and round shape. The ball playing area can extend to anywhere in the town and there is no much control of vehicles.

Scone Ba Game

The Scone Ba Game is held in Scone, Perth and Kinross, Scotland. 1 team is made up with married men and the other team is of bachelors. It is very much the running game with the ball in hands. Players are not allowed to kick the ball. The game is held between 2 pm and sunset. The married side intend to hit the ball 3 times to the lid. The bachelors try to dip the ball in the river. If either side can’t achieve it by the sunset, the ball is cut into halves and shared by each side.

Carterhaugh Ba Game

The Carterhaugh Ba Game was first played on 4th of December 1815 at the Bowhill Estate ,the Carterhaugh peninsula, where is close to Selkirk, Scottish Borders. A ball used for the Carterhaugh Ba Game is just slightly smaller than the ball of Association football. It is said that the ball was pick up by hands during the game. This was 8 years earlier than the story of the Rugby school, where William Webb Ellis picked up the ball from the ground and started running with it. Today the fairy tale of Ellis is believed to be the beginning of the Rugby football. However, here is another story.

Hobkirk Handba Game

It’s the traditional game played between the Uppies and the Downies at the Hobkirk, Scottish borders for the Shrovetide period. The ball is small and played by hands. Players try to take the ball and move away from the crowded players, and it is counted as the hale. Later, another ball will be in place and the game restart.


Calcio Fiorentino

The Calcio Fiorentino is originated in the Piazza Santa Croce, Florence, Italy in 16th century. It was also played in the Vatican city. Players can punch, kick and tackle opposite players with or without a ball.  Even head-butting, elbowing and choking are parts of the game. The ancestry game of the Calcio Fiorentino was played in 15th century.

The Calcio Fiorentino competition is held in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence in June every year and contested by the following 4 teams.


Azzurri (Blues): Santa Croce

Rossi (Reds): Santa Maria Novella

Bianchi (Whites): Santo Spirito

Verdi (Greens): San Giovanni


The ball is round-shaped, and made of cloth or leather. 1 game is 50 minutes. The field is size 80m x 40m and filled with sand. The Goal is called caccia and the net is placed along each end. Teams switch sides per each goal. When an attempt goes above the net, opposite team get a half goal.

1 team consists of 27 players and no substitution. The number of players can go down during the game often due to injuries.


Datori indietro (Goalkeeper): 4 players.

Datori innanzi (Fullback): 3 players.

Sconciatori (Halfbacks): 5 players.

Innanzi / Corridori (forwards): 15 players.


La Soule (Choule)

La Soule originates in Normandy and Picardy, France. La Soule was traditionally played at holidays such as Easter and Christmas. Aim of the game is to score goals by feet and hands. Sticks may be also used depending on the rule arrangement. The goals were placed at their own parish church. The game starts at the border of 2 parishes. Therefore, the playing field can be very extensive. 2 teams were divided into married men and bachelors at times. It is full-contact sport and the rules of La Soule were codified in 1396. The ball of La Soule is made of leather.

Today, the competition is held at the Normandy festival. It is played in Tricot, Oise on the Sunday after Shrove Tuesday. La Soule is also played in Vendôme every year.

There are variants such as the Choule crosse and the Grande choule.


Lelo burti

The Lelo burti is the traditional event in Georgia. The ball is heavy and it is mainly carried in hands. Number of participants can be very high and people push each other around the ball. The local residents believed that the winners can expect richer harvests at their village.

The Lelo burti is mentioned in the poem, “the Knight in the Panther’s Skin” from the 12th century. Lelo is the equivalent to the try in Rugby football.

The modern sport of Lelo burti has been codified, which appears similar to Rugby union. However, forward passing and knocking the ball out of hands are allowed. Players can only carry the ball for 5 seconds or less, and need to pass the ball. In addition, the ball is round-shaped and heavier with the weight 2.5kg. The field of the Lelo burti is rectangular, 90m to 135m long x 60m to 90m wide. Teams attempt to carry the ball to the end zone called the mak. 1 game is made up of 2 halves of 30 minutes.

The nickname of the national Rugby union team of Georgia is Lelos.



The Ulama is the traditional game in Mesoamerica such as Mexico and El Salvador. The Mesoamerican ballgame is from 4000 years ago or more. This is the oldest ball game played with rubber ball around 1600BC. The game declined since the Spanish conquest.

The narrow court used for the Ulama is called a tastei. The center line called an analco separates the court. Players intend to keep the ball in bounds. When the ball crossed the end line called chichi (chivo), it is 1 point. There are many other ways to score points as well such as handling the ball and knocking the ball out of bounds. The teams need to score 8 points to win the game.

There are 3 main types how the Ulama is played today.

Ulama de cadera (Hip ulama):

1 team is between 5 to 12 players. The ball is approximately 3kg. Players wear loincloths and hip pads for protection.

Ulama de antebrazo (Forearm ulama):

The court is smaller and 1 team consists of 1 to 3 players. The ball is less heavy. Players return the ball by forearm. It is popular among women.

Ulama de mazo (Ulama de palo):

Paddle made of wood is used. The ball weight is 0.5kg. 1 team consists of 3 to 4 players.



The basse is a game from Norway, which was devised over 1 century ago. The ball used for this sport is made of rubber rings or tyre of bicycle and called Basse.

Each of 4 to 9 players attempts to score goals to the circles of diameter 100cm to 150cm. The circle can be defended but without hands.

Conceding goal result losing 1 point. Players are out of the game when it’s minus 3 points. When last 2 players survived, the next goal wins the game no matter how many points these 2 players have.

New Zealand


The Ki-o-rahi is the traditional ball game of the Maori people in New Zealands. It is unknown exactly how old the Ki-o-rahi is. The field of the Ki-o-rahi is circle-shaped. Areas are divided like the archery target, and main areas are Te Ao, Te Roto, Pawero, Te Wairua and Tupu. The ball used for Ki-o-rahi is called ki, which is round-shaped and made of woven plant. Rubber balls are used today for the modern version of the game. The game is 2 team contest. Although the field, the ball and rules are different, many of the skillsets required can be common with the Tag rugby.


Yubi lakpi

The traditional Football is played in Manipur, India, which is called the Yubi lakpi. The ball used is a coconut. The gameplay appears like Rugby football although it is not directly related. A player passes the goal line with the coconut to score. Player needs to carry a coconut under arm. Only the coconut carrier can be tackled. Players tend to play barefoot and without shirts. Oil is put on players’ skin in general, so that it is harder to grab. The field is 45m long x 18m wide. The Hinduism is at the background of the Yubi lakpi.

Southeast Asia

Sepak takraw (Kick volleyball, Sepak raga,Takraw, Kataw)

The Sepak takraw is popular in Southeast Asia. There are similarities with the footvolley and the Footnet. The earliest known record of Sepak takraw is found in the Malay Annals (Sejarah Melayu), which indicates it was played in Malacca Sultanate, Malaysia in the 15th century. The Sepak takraw was more like the exhibition rather than competitive sport in early days. The current form of the Sepak takraw which is the net sport became common by the 1940’s.

There are 2 main categories, the regu and the doubles regu. The court size is 13.4m x 6.1m (44ft x 20ft). The net height is 152cm for men and 142cm for women. The ball of the sepak takraw is made of synthetic fibre or woven rattan. The circumference is 42cm to 44cm (16.5in to17.3 in) for men and 43cm to 45cm (16.9in to17.7in) for women. The weight is 170g to 180g (6.0oz to 6.3oz) for men and 150g to 160g (5.3oz to 5.6oz) for women. Players can use only feet, knee, chest and head to hit the ball. The ISTAF (International Sepak Takraw Federation) is the governing body.

Major competitions:

ISTAF SuperSeries.

ISTAF World Cup.

King’s Cup World Championships.

The Sepak takraw is also played in the Asian Games and the Southeast Asian Games.

The Sipa played in Philippines is related to the Sepak takraw. 1 team is made up of 1, 2 or 4 players. And rules are simplified.


Chinlone (Caneball)

The Chinlone has been played in Myanmar since 1500 years ago. The Chinlone was created as the entertainment with the influence of Burmese martial arts and dance. It’s not the competitive sport in tradition. For that reason, spectacle techniques have developed over the many years.

The ball used for Chinlone is made of woven rattan. 1 team consists of 6 players in general. Players keep up the ball in the air without using hands within the circle. There is the single performance called Tapandaing. Rulebook for the Chinlone was created in1953 and the first competition started.



The Jegichagi is the traditional game often played in winter particularly during the Lunar New Year. The Jegichagi developed from the training of martial arts. Players try to kick the Jegi in the air as many times as possible without dropping onto the ground. The Jegi is made of coin and hanji paper. Weight of the jegi is approximately 10g (0.35oz).



The Jianzi is the game of keeping up a shuttlecock in the air without help of hands. It’s known that the Jianzi has been played in China since 2nd century BC. It has developed from another old Chinese game, the Cuju. There are 2 main ways of plays, which are the circle kick and the duel kick. Freestyle similar to the one of Footbag is also played.

The Jianqiu is the official code for the competition. A rectangular court size is 6.10m x 11.88m. The net height is 160cm for men and 150cm for women. The official featherball used in the competitions is made with 4 feathers and a base of rubber or plastic. The weight is approximately 15g to 25g.

New code, Ti Jian Zi (Chinese JJJ) uses the badminton court and lower net, which is 90cm height. Due to the lower net, acrobatic football style volley can be employed to return the shuttlecock.

The ISF (International Shuttlecock Federation) was founded in 1999.

China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam

Cuju (Kemari)

The Cuju is the ancient ball game originates in China in 3rd century BC. The earliest description of the Cuju can be found in the Warring States era’s “Zhan Guo Ce (the Strategies of the Warring States)”. This is actually the first mention among all the Football Athletic Games in the history. The Cuju was the military training. The Cuju may have been physically demanding and the competitive game at that time. Playing Cuju became very popular and some players started playing professionally in Song Dynasty (960–1279).

The Cuju league, Qi Yun She was organised in major cities in 10th century. The national championship, Shan Yue Zheng Sai was held annually. Later, the Cuju propagated to the surrounding countries. This game is called Kemari in Japan. The Kemari became special events at festivals and shrines.

It is said Kemari was introduced to Japan in the Asuka period (592 – 710). The first mention of the Kemari in Japan is in 644 AD. The Kemari was codified in the 13th century. Kemari’s purpose to display keeping the round-shaped ball up in the air without using hands. The Kemari is not the competitive game.

Football games of prehistoric, ancient, medieval and early modern periods:

UK, Europe

Mob football (Shrovetide football, Folk football, Medieval football)

Football games were widely played across Europe during the medieval period, which is called the Mob football. The typical ball was made of pig’s bladder. The nature of the game was very physical and number of participants were very large and mostly unlimited. It was more like the festival of the towns than sports at that time.

Some of the games didn’t necessarily involve kicking. However, they had similarity with the ball kicking games in many ways.

The Shrovetide football became very popular in the Britain. It was codified gradually and became the roots of modern Football sports such as Association football and Rugby union.



The Episkyros is a ball game from ancient Greece such as Sparta. It was very physical game and it may have appeared like Rugby football. The game was played by 2 teams. 1 team consists of 12 to 14 players. It was played in special occasions like festivals. The ball of Episkyros appears round-shaped in the art pieces from that time.


The Phaininda is a ball game from ancient Greece similar to the Episkyros. The detailed rules are unknown today. The Phaininda was the inspiration for the Roman people to play the similar ball game.


Harpastum (Harpustum)

The Roman Empire adopted the Phaininda, the ball game from Greece and played under the name Harpastum or Harpustum in Italy. The Romans made modifications to the game, however, it was physically aggressive sport and injuries such as bone fracture were very common.


Old division football

The Football Athletic Games were already taking place in USA even before the Association football and the Rugby football were fully codified. The Old division football was the game commonly played at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA between 1820 and 1890. It was also called the Usual football rush or the Football rush. The rules were published by the Dartmouth students in 1871. Number of players per side was unlimited. Teams kick the ball to the fence at the east or west to win the game.


There are number of suggestions about the Football-like ball game of the native American people. In 1656 Daniel Denton mentioned that Football was played by the people close to the Delawares or the Lenape. It’s called the Pahsaheman and it is physically very demanding game. However, when a female player keeps a ball, male players are not allowed to grab or tackle, but only allowed to intercept passes. Goals have to be scored by specific players. Team get a stick per each goal from 12 sticks. The team with more sticks wins the game. When it’s 6 – 6 tie, the play-off follows. Games tend to be played in the afternoon, and the season starts in spring when it’s warm.

The ball used for Pahsaheman is called Pahsahikąn. It’s 9 inches (23cm)diameter and made of dear skin. Goalposts are made of woods. The field size is approximately 45m x 18m (150ft x 60ft).

Native American people widely played their traditional version of Football games, which were not related to Football games from Europe.

Greenland, Canada


The Inuit people have developed the traditional Football game suitable for their environment over the long period. The Aqsaqtuk means Football on Ice. 2 teams face each other and compete for scoring more goals. The field size varies. The opposite goal can be as far as the next village at times and the game is contested between the different villages. The ball is made of animal skins, hair, bones and etc. Teams tend to use birds’ names for their teams’ identities. The games are played during summer as well as winter.



The Knattleikr is the traditional sport in Iceland. Knattleikr means the Ball game. It appears similar to Irish Hurling. The history is more than 1000 years and it’s unknown exactly since how long ago. Players tend to deal the ball with hands and sticks. It can be very physical game just like other ancient Football games. It is often played on ice fields. The Knattleikr is played between 2 teams. 1 team normally consists of 6 players. The objective of the game is to score goals. The game can last for days although it is concluded in 1 day mostly of the times. The ball is small and made of wool felt, which is very hard. The stick is made of wood. The exact rules of the original Knattleikr are unknown today.



The variety of ball games developed in Ireland, which is called Caid. It gradually led to the formation of the Gaelic Football as well. The ball was made of animal skin and bladder. There is a record mentioning about Football game in 1308. 2 major types of the Caid were witnessed in 19th century. In the field game, players score to the arch-shaped goals facing each other. The other game is cross-country game, which the teams can win by taking the ball across parish boundary. It was usually played on Sundays. Both of them are tough and very physical games, and similar to the Cnapan of the Wales.


Marn Grook

The Marn Grook is the traditional ball kicking and catching game of the Aboriginal Australians. Players kick a ball each other in turn and try not to drop. The type of kick used is like the punt kick. The Marn Grook game can last many hours. It is not clear how to win the game. The opposite side has to accept the game was won by the other team. The ball is made of animal skin, for example, possum. The ball was handed the best performed player. Taller players have advantage to catch the ball in the air. This point has similarity with Australian football. The Marn Grook appears similar to the Kick-to-kick of Australian football.

The Woggabaliri is the children’s version of the game. The Warlpiri people from the Central part of Australia played a game called the Pultja, that is similar to the Marn Grook.

Author: Takuya Nagata. Amazon Profile

Novel writer, Creator. Travelled to Brazil and trained football at CFZ do Rio (Centro de Futebol Zico Sociedade Esportiva) in Rio de Janeiro. Played soccer for the Urawa Reds (Urawa Red Diamonds), one of the biggest football clubs in Japan, and toured Europe. Retired at a young age and voyaged alone to England and graduated from UCA, the UK’s university. Established careers as journalist, football coach, consultant, etc. across Europe such as Spain. Knowledgeable in creative and technology fields as well. Launched “MINIЯISM” (minirism), the art movement that contributes to the development of societies and the knowledge hub “The Minimalist.” The founder of “Propulsive Football” (PROBALL), the world’s first-ever competitive mixed football, facilitating diversity and spirit for equal participation in society. Also writing for “Football Game Sphere.”

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