Old traditional games have through the years lost their popularity to mass sports like football and ice hockey. Yet for a long time now, in different places, attempts have been made to reinstate the old games. Like for example ring riding, which is practiced in a number of varieties in the Netherlands. In Zealand is called “rinkrieen”. A rider, sitting on a galloping horse, has to put wooden pole through a ring with a diameter 38 centimeters. The manes of the animal have to be decorated with ribbons and the tail is platted. Due to this the “rinkrieen” is a colorful spectacle. Originally only farmers on working horses took part. Now mechanization has virtually made the working horse redundant and the game is open to all horse riders. In 1950 the Zealand Ringriders Union was established.
In Friesland the same game is called “ringriden”. Here too a pole has to be put through a small ring. Only here it is not done by a horse rider, but by a couple in a traditional costume, riding in a classical gig. The man drives and the woman tries to get the ring on a short thin stick. This old folk sport is also practiced in Groningen. Related to this is the so-called barrel or tub shooting. With this game, which is especially played during village feasts, a lance has to be put through a hole in a plank under a tub of water. The participants sit on a cart which is released at a height of one and half meters in order to gain speed. Whoever hits the plank with the lance will be drenched by the water from the tub, much to the amusement of the lookers on.
In Twente and in the Achterhoek “kloot” shooting has become very popular. With this game the “kloot”, a wooden ball filled with lead weighing 275 grams, has to be throw over a certain distance in as few turns as possible.
The game is also played in Ireland, East Friesland, Oldenburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Once every three years the European championships are held. In some regions there are still games which are distant relatives of golf. This is the “krullebollen” in Zealand Flanders, the “beugelen” in Limburger and the “kolven” in West-Friesland. Most of these games were very popular in earlier centuries; at the beginning of this century they were nearly nonexistent but were later revived.
In Friesland some typical regional sports are practiced, which have hints of folklore however serious they are practiced. After the Second World War – jumping across a wide ditch with a pole volt – became very popular. Also, athletes from outside the province have done very well in this sport, with record jumps of up to twenty meters.
The playing at five (bowls) is the Frisian remains of a general sport. In Belgium some experts become professionals in the related game “jeu de pelote”.
And then there are many historical sailing competitions which are regularly organized. Competitors are owners of beautiful old ships like tjalken, butters, (fishing boats), scows, etc. The “skutjesilen” in Friesland has grown into the highlight of the sailing season. Many beautiful restored freight ships from the past compete within two rivaling organizations for the highest skipper’s honour.