The Eugene, Cascades & Coast region prides itself on being a place for all kinds of sports, not just traditional sports. Here are a few sports that are played in the region that you may not have heard of and that might surprise you.
Of course, you’ve heard of soccer, but have you heard of futsal? The sport, governed by FIFA, is known by many names including five-a-side, mini soccer, futbol sala, or futebol de salão but more commonly known as futsal. According to U.S Futsal, futsal can be traced back to Uruguay in 1930 when it was originally created as a five-a-side version of soccer for youth competition in YMCAs. While the sport can be played both indoors and out, futsal has become a sport more traditionally played indoors on a basketball-sized court. The smaller area of play and the increased emphasis on technical ability makes the sport especially popular amongst soccer players wanting to better develop their dribbling ability. Soon after the invention of the sport, futsal quickly grew in popularity throughout South America, especially in Brazil. The influence of futsal in Brazillian soccer is undeniable, as they are adored by fans and feared by opponents wherever their futsal-inspired play is out on display.
From Uruguay to Eugene, Oregon, futsal has found a home anywhere and everywhere you find passionate soccer players. For youth athletes in the region, Eugene Metro FC (EMFC, formerly known as Eugene Timbers FC) hosts U11-U14 boys and girls indoor futsal sessions. The EMFC athletes play at the Bob Keefer Center for Sports and Recreation on their multipurpose hard courts. For adults, Playground Sports hosts various futsal leagues in conjunction with Lane United FC at Kidsports’ indoor courts. The fostering of futsal in our community means soccer players of all ages are able to hone their soccer skills both indoors as well as outdoors.
Another soccer-based sport you may not have heard of is known as teqball. Invented in Hungary in 2012, teqball is a combination of table tennis and soccer with the key hallmark of the sport being that it is played on a specially curved table. Known as a teq table, it bears a resemblance to a traditional table tennis table with an upward curve at the center and a hard net dividing the table in half. Teqball can be played 1v1 (singles) or 2v2 (doubles) irrespective of gender and can be played indoors or out, on a sand or acrylic surface. While the rules are similar to what you would expect from a soccer and table tennis match-up, Teqball takes inspiration from volleyball by allowing teams three total touches before the ball must be returned to the opposing side.
With over 120 established national federations, 2,000 clubs from around the world, and three World Championships organized all since 2012, the sport has certainly become a popular one for those who enjoy putting their juggling skills on display. So much so that students at the University of Oregon (UO) hold teqball tournaments as intramural competitions. A tournament held at McArthur Court organized by the UO will have teams compete in pairs. The day before the tournament, they will invite participants to learn more about the sport from teqball professional athletes. The more eye-popping detail of this tournament organized for students, faculty, and staff is that they will be competing for their split of a $10,000 prize pool with the first-place team taking home $3,750. Eligible players will be able to register on the first day of the winter term on Monday, January 3rd, 2023 at 9:00 am.
Translating to “Festival” in Korean, a hanmadong is an event in which martial artists of all levels are able to demonstrate their abilities without sparing against each other. From board breaking, forms, team demos, and more, individuals and teams compete in divisions that allow four-year-old yellow belts to show the new skills they’ve learned while also allowing veteran black belts to perform jaw-dropping world-class performances. The event began in 1992 when the World Taekwando Hanmadang opened its first contest that brought Taekwondo practitioners from all over the world together.
While the World Taekwondo Hanmadang normally takes place in Korea, there is also an Oregon State Hanmadang celebration. In 2022, Eugene hosted the third annual Oregon State Hanmadang. The two-day event drew 500 spectators and 150 participants. Also in attendance was the President of the International US Open Taekwondo Hanmadang, Grand Master Doug Fuechsel, and Grand Master Nelson De Jesus, Head Official for the U.S. Taekwondo Committee. The 2023 Oregon State Hanmadang is already set to take place back at Kidsports’ fieldhouse on May 5 and 6. May 5 will be a martial arts expo featuring an extreme trick kick competition, Korean archery, record attempts in power-breaking and single-elimination events, and more. Day two will be the tournament where martial artists from across the country will compete in power breaking, archery, individual creative combo breaking, and karate and kung fu forms. While lesser known to the general public, the Oregon State Hanmadang is crucial in fostering a strong and flourishing martial arts community in the Eugene, Cascades and Coast region.
More than just a niche twist to the popular winter sport, underwater hockey was invented by the British Navy in the 1950s to keep their divers fit and to improve their ability to move and work efficiently underwater. The swimmers wear large fins, a diving mask, a snorkel and a thick glove made from latex to protect the hand from the bottom of the pool and the 3.3-pound puck (made of lead and coated with plastic). In water hockey, six players are in a pool at a time with four interchangeable players who can substitute at any time. Teams start at opposite ends of the 25mx15m, 2m-4m deep pool with the puck positioned in the center. At the sound of the buzzer, the players race for possession of the puck with their end goal to score the puck in the opponent's goal. The non-contact sport is great for participants of all ages because unlike many sports, you can’t fall down! And, by nature of the sport taking place underwater, it’s a three-dimensional playing surface, meaning how you play and the strategy implemented is only limited by your imagination.
Locally, underwater hockey is organized by Eugene Underwater Hockey Club (EUHC). They play on Mondays and Fridays from 7:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at the Willamalane Park Swim Center and hosted clinics and tournaments earlier this year in June. Going by the name “Oregon Sunshine”, the Eugene Underwater Hockey Club made an appearance at the USA Underwater Hockey Nationals where they finished third in their “pod” with an overall record of 6-5-0. The competition was held in Denver and featured teams from all over the country. The Oregon Sunshine faced off against teams from Los Angeles, Chicago, Minnesota, Florida, and Boston just to name a few.
Now, you have likely heard of Pinball as an arcade game or have seen it at your favorite bar next to the jukebox or dart board, but did you know there’s a popular scene of competitive pinball? Eugene is home to the Emerald City Pinball League, a competitive circuit that meets intermittently on Mondays at Blairally Vintage Arcade and Level Up Arcade. The circuit attracts pinball aficionados, newcomers, and even some of the top-ranked players in Oregon. Now in its 10th season, the Emerald City Pinball League has over 50 players, meaning that this year the local tournament attendance outpaced Portland despite the larger city having the most pinball machines per capita. The league’s playoffs started on November 7th at Blairally and the next season will begin in February 2023.
The Joriad is perhaps the most unique competition in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. The Oregon Truffle Festival is one of the country’s most esteemed culinary events in celebration of Oregon’s native truffles and the burgeoning cultivation of European truffles in the state. So why are we talking about truffles? Well, the Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship is a competition that takes place in which truffle dogs and their trainers compete to find hidden truffle-scented targets. Dogs of all breeds are invited to compete in the amateur championship event in which spectators are welcome at the Lane County Fairgrounds. Additionally, the top five out of 24 dogs who compete in this open round then move on to compete in a second and final round in a field not open to the public in which they search for real truffles. This festival takes place at the height of Oregon’s native truffle season in America's prime truffle country.
Oregon’s cool wet weather and dark forests create the perfect growing conditions for the fungus to grow, and since the truffles grow underground, only “man’s best friend” is capable of sniffing them out and digging them up! Unlike the aforementioned sports, the star athletes who compete in the Joriad are the truffle dogs. In addition to seeing the best of the truffle dogs compete, there is also a two-day training seminar for trainers and their beloved companions to learn how to become truffle hunters themselves. Truffle dogs are in high demand, as one pound of truffles can be worth as much as $2,000. And while pigs have traditionally been used to search for truffles, the simple fact is that people would rather train their best friend to search for truffles than invite a large pig into the back of their car to go search for truffles. Besides personal preferences, dogs also have more stamina than pigs, are easier to train, and (perhaps most importantly) dogs are less likely to eat the newfound truffle!
Sports of all kinds!
From variations of the most popular sport in the world to competitions completely unique to our area of the country, the Eugene, Cascades and Coasts region is home to sports of all kinds! No matter the sport, it’s sure to find a home here.
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J.B. Carney Senior Director, Sports
J.B. oversees the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission, focusing on growing the local sports event economy through excellent sales and services programs and effective target marketing.