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By Bryan Osegueda
If you think soccer is just too easy, then try lighting the ball on fire! Fireball soccer is a sport played by Indonesian students to welcome the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. It is just like a regular soccer game, same rules, and a referee, just that the ball is on fire! As we all know, rubber can catch fire if the temperature gets really hot, so a regular soccer ball can’t be used. Instead, the fireball is made from a coconut from a palm tree. The coconut is then covered in kerosene for a week which makes it ready to light up and last the whole game.
The sport is celebrated in Yogyakarta, Bogor, Tasikmalaya, and Papua which are regions of Indonesia. Before the match, the students perform rituals and practice fasting. The purpose of the game is to test the courage of the students. After the match, whether they win or lose, they are no longer terrified by fire and their spirit is strengthened. It is believed that if the students don’t go to perform the rituals and practice fasting before the game, then they will fear the fire and become vulnerable to it during the game.
“It doesn’t make sense how their physical contact with fire doesn’t affect them in anyway”, said a freshmen at South Gate High School. Although it seems like they would catch on fire, the students are covered I sand and soaked in non-flammable spices. Once the rituals are completed, the match starts and everyone chases the ball with bare feet. Just like in a regular soccer match, in case of a tie, the winners are determined through penalty kicks. After the game, the teams shake hands and the crowd celebrates he ninth month of the Muslim year by singing and performing more rituals.