I have only admiration for the effort and skill that dancers put into their art form. It is the same thing with opera singers or sushi chefs

Ever seen Sepak Takraw? What about elephant polo? Or even roller hockey, for that matter? They are all sports (the first is a type of hands-free volleyball played in southeast Asia, while the second is polo but on elephants instead of horses) but they are all sports that you could well go a lifetime without ever hearing about or seeing, never mind actually playing.

It is true that roller hockey is fairly popular in this part of Europe, especially in Catalonia, and especially around the Penedès area, and there is even a Barça roller hockey team. However, there are also whole swathes of the world where people would have little idea of what the game actually looks like.

An alien visiting Earth could be excused for thinking that we only have about four sports on the planet, with football first among them. I sometimes wonder whether this is part of the reason why some people roll their eyes at the mere mention of football. Overexposure kills interest and familiarity breeds contempt. What’s more, if you have a menu of three items, what do you do if none of them take your fancy? Who knows if the answer to this is having more sport available rather than less, so that everyone finds something more to their liking? I don’t know. Maybe not.

While it may just be the case that any type of sport – whether it is pole vaulting or chess boxing (competitors do alternate rounds of each sport) - doesn’t do it for some people, we can all surely appreciate excellence and celebrate it. Dancing has never been my thing, for example. Even though my daughter is a dancer and I’ve sat through scores of her performances, somehow it just won’t grow on me. But, I will say that I have nothing but admiration for the effort and skill that dancers put into their art form. I could say the same thing about opera singers or sushi chefs.

The same thing might also be said of the sports people featured in this issue of the magazine on pages 20 to 27. You certainly won’t find Leo Messi among the athletes we cover in the report, but you will find some true champions who have reached the pinnacles of their respective disciplines thanks to their single-minded dedication and many hours of striving, in short, through their blood, sweat and tears.

And in particular, for me, the sportspeople that fascinate me the most tend to be those in minority sports. There are no rich rewards for these people, and they will remain largely anonymous despite their, often great, achievements. When I think of sports heroes, these are the ones I spare a thought for, the unsung heroes of sport. And, as you will see in our features this month, there are no shortage of such people in Catalonia !

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