While FIFA have tried to make football more interesting by giving us golden goal extra time or by hosting a World Cup in a scorching-hot barren desert, Indonesians have found their own way to spice up the beautiful game: flaming coconuts.
Popular in many Islamic boarding schools across East Java, five players start each match by praying that they will not be burned, and then proceed to kick an on-fire coconut with bare feet. News Track India reports:
These players prepare for these football matches for 21 days, which includes praying and fasting and learning to tame fire.
When they are ready, the tough 60 minutes of football begins played in bare feet with a burning coconut, which has been soaked in kerosene for two days, and up to four blazing coconuts are used in the game.
According to match organiser Ali Akhyar, the game is intended to test spiritual strength and psychological toughness. "We make a fireball to test the guts of the students," he adds.
The best line of the News Track India report on the game, however, is the last one:
The methods aim to make the players heat resistant, to the point where fire does not burn their skin.
Improving one's mental toughness is one thing, but trying to make school children flame retardant seems a little ambitious.
- Sports & Recreation