Have you ever heard of Chinlone? If you’re a soccer nut who loves to watch people with elite ball juggling skills, you should get to know it…
Chinlone is a cane ball composed of wicker-work. Cane or rattan is a wild creeper which grows profusely in many forests of Myanmar.
Chinlone is played basically with foÂot and other parts of the body – head, shoulder, elbow, knee, heel, sole etc. except for the hands. There is no goal to shoot in and no fixed number of players needed to play it. The main object is to keep the chinlon in the air as long as possible without touching it with the hand. It may be played by a individual or by a team of players in circle, catching the chinlon as it comes to them and keeping it as long as possible in the air. Players usually played with bare feet and had their waistcloths tucked up close round the middle. But today both men and women players wear shorts and canvas shoes.
Players stay in what looks like an elevated circus ring, but smaller. Teams usually play in a circle with a skilled handler in the center. While you may be thinking that any decent soccer player can juggle a ball 1000+ times so it is no big deal, you have to see it to believe it. They don’t just keep the ball aloft. They use very acrobatic moves with a lot of behind the back ball contact to keep the ball aloft.
A new documentary is premiering in May called Mystic Ball which chronicles the sport of Chinlon. They have released a short reel of the movie which will give you a good feel for how amazing the ball control is. Think ball juggling crossed with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. The sequence of the lady in the red outfit is very impressive. Give it a look (you need Quicktime) Hat tip to WorldCupBlog for passing this on!
UPDATE: Here is the updated Chinlone Wikipedia article mentioned in the comments, though the updating author unfortunately wiped out all the previous information instead of adding to it/correcting it. All references to it as a sport vs a type of spiritual dance have been removed.