When I was at school the only sport we ever played was football (or ‘soccer’ to many of our readers). Every sports class, break time and summer course was dedicated to my unsuccessful attempts to recreate the elegant, flowing style of my Manchester United idols.
But while my love for the game remains to this day, I have some regrets.
To begin with, the decision not to diversify my sporting endeavors has left me with undeveloped hand-eye coordination, absolutely no upper body strength and nothing to do when it’s really cold. What’s more, if someone had told me that I had a much better chance of becoming a national-level synchronized swimmer than a footballer then I might have chosen differently.
So if your kids want to improve their chances of actually getting to something nearing a meaningful competition or just to try something new, here’s a selection of some less mainstream sports available to kids in Beijing.
Best described as a fusion of swimming and ballet, synchronized swimming is a novel alternative for kids interested in either sport. The combination of strength and artistry has seen it grow in popularity since its inclusion in the 1984 Olympics.
The Xiqi Shuiyang Synchronized Swimming Club offers weekend classes for children aged 6 and over. Beginners are welcome, though they must be able to swim at least 50 meters in two styles to take part.
2 Tiyuguan Rd, Chongwen District (139 1023 5840) 北京市崇文区体育馆路2号
Plenty of kids like sword fighting, so why not get them using sabres, épées and foils rather than poking each other with sticks in the kitchen? Fencing is a great way to work up a sweat and that’s not just because of all the protective gear.
The Wanghaibin International Fencing Club has classes for kids aged 6 and over to learn the basics of the sport.
Bldg 2, Block 21, Xiaoying Beilu, Chaoyang District (8499 0075) 朝阳区小营北路21号院2号楼
Archery has played a major part in Chinese history, from the rituals of the imperial court to the throes of the battlefield. Nowadays the bows and arrows are more likely to be found in sports clubs than repelling invaders, but there’s still lots of fun to be had for sharp-shooting kids.
The Beijing City Archery Club runs sessions for children aged 8 and over with a former member of China’s National Archery Team.
Rm. B103 Tower A Chaowai SOHO , No. B6 Chaoyangmenwai Street (5900 9123) 朝阳门外大街，朝外SOHO, A塔B103
Increasingly popular in Europe, handball is a combination of many of the skills required for basketball, soccer and rugby. This fast-paced sport is played indoors, so perfect for kids whose love of scoring goals decreases as the mercury falls.
Most kids enjoy donning a snorkel and having a look at what’s below the water’s surface, but mastering scuba diving is life skill worth having. It can also come in handy for future family holidays for those who would rather go fish-spotting than sit on a beach.
SinoScuba runs courses with fully qualified dive instructors for kids aged 10 and over, as well as trips to swim with dolphins and – if you’re brave enough – sharks.
All photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons