Saami football: Last chance for Russian soccer after Euro 2016

And whereas in normal soccer the goalkeeper can cover the ball with their body, in Saami football the goalkeeper protects the ball by covering it with the hem of the skirt.

And whereas in normal soccer the goalkeeper can cover the ball with their body, in Saami football the goalkeeper protects the ball by covering it with the hem of the skirt.

Sergey Ermokhin
While the male half of the country’s population is glued to the European Championship in France, the women of the Kola Peninsula fight it out in a game of Saami football.
In mid-June in the village of Lovozero in the Murmansk Region, right in the heart of Saami culture, a picturesque lakeside location hosts an event of traditional Saami games.
Above all, it is a folk and sporting occasion, including competitions in traditional kinds of entertainment for indigenous inhabitants of the Kola Peninsula.
The contests include jumping through wooden sledges, crossbow shooting, lassoing ferrets, running with a stick on uneven terrain, rowing, and Saami football.
While the male half of the country’s population is glued to the European Championship in France, the women of the Kola Peninsula fight it out in a game of Saami football.
The goalkeeper stands in the goal made of two poles stuck into the ground. Yes, the essence of northern minimalism.
The ball in Saami football is sewn from reindeer skins and stuffed with deer hair or pieces of buckskin. It is quite heavy compared to a conventional soccer ball, but as ever players cannot use their hands, except the goalkeeper, of course.
This year female residents of Murmansk, Olenegorsk, and the settlement of Revda came to “drive the ball through the swamp.”
Teachers, accountants, doctors, and even an employee of the municipal administration – serious people in everyday life – would not go to such lengths for the sake of a “school sports day”. So it’s all for real – the training, the competition itself, and, above all, the passion.
One of the players gets mad at the referee for awarding a penalty for handball: “It wasn’t my hand – that’s just the way my breasts are.”
Plus, instead of grass underfoot there’s nothing but “soft” swamp. Not a very feminine activity, you might think, but ... men can only cheer from the sidelines, joking: “Take it on the chest!”, “Sweety pie!”, etc.
The match usually lasts two halves of 10 minutes each, and only the balls that roll into the goal are counted. Everything that flies into the goal is big footie, but Saami rules are different.
The number of goals scored ranges from zero to infinity, because this game is first of all about fun, and only then about prizes and seats.
In the Murmansk region, Saami football enjoys unprecedented popularity, and spectators come from miles around to see the entertaining matches.
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