Motoball: Why Everyone is Afraid of Drivers in Azerbaijan
This Azerbaijan sports story from Today.Az is probably a problem of translation and typing. Needless to say, it led me on a bit of a head-scratching search:
The European motorball championship will be held in Voznesensk, Ukraine on July 10-16.
The championship will bring together teams from Azerbaijan, France, Netherlands, Germany, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine.
You don’t need to click the link above. That’s the entire story. But it puzzled me: what is motorball? A glance over at Wikipedia gives us this:
Motorball, a fictional sport played in Battle Angel Alita and Ashen Victor, and the favorite pastime of the citizens of the Scrapyard. Functionally, it serves an important role in society as it allows viewers to temporarily forget the despair of their situation. In actuality, this hyperviolent cross between Roman gladiators and speed skating relieves stress much more with violence than it does with sport. The goal is to carry a heavy motorball across the finish line, or to be the last man standing.
Uh…what? For those of you not familiar with Battle Angel Alita, it’s a Japanese comic (manga) series turned into anime movie and video game forms. My instincts told me that Azerbaijanis were not playing this fictional sport in the Scrapyard, as much as some might want to “forget the despair of their situation.”
A broader search (and the help of a friend) turned up this gem:
The motorcycles are special machines with 250cc engines which can reach a speed of approximately 70km/h. A team normally consists of 2 goalkeepers and 8 field players. Four of the players are active on the field while the other four are available for a “flying change”. In addition, the team is completed by 2 mechanics and the team leader and/or the coach respectively. The playing time is 4×20 minutes with a break of 10 minutes between each quarter.
The ball is played with the foot, the offside rule as in soccer not being used, but the ball must cross the middle line and then be played and then be touched by a player of the own or the opposing team.
Notice that it’s Motorball (fictional) vs. Motoball (improbably real). Okay, so this is sounding a little better. At least it sounds plausible as a game (and there are pictures of the game being played on their website). Yet, the History of Motoball also features this paragraph, below, that is probably more disturbing than the prospect of anyone playing the comical Motorball:
For those youngsters passionate for motorcycling, Motoball is a low-priced possibility to make themselves familiar with motorcycle sports and to acquire quite early their abilities to ride a bike in the public traffic, because the clubs are training and educating them and thus provide the best preparation for their participation not only in motorcycle sports but also in the public traffic.
If that’s the attitude they’re taking, then it’s no wonder every foreigner in Azerbaijan is afraid of drivers here.