The “unusual” team sports students need to try in 2023

Jarrod Brown
Jarrod Brown

It’s no secret that in 2023, students are living in ‘the age of digital convenience’. There is a downside to having the world at your fingertips, though. With easy access to social media, digital gaming and online education, many Australian students struggle to find a reason to leave the house.

But with reports of childhood obesity continuing to skyrocket and a widely reported rise of social anxiety among students who have grown up communicating via screens, schools are realising the importance of enticing students into organised team sport – and with a interesting range of unusual team sports students need to try in 2023, it doesn’t just have to be about netball, football and hockey.

While sports like rugby league, football and AFL (Australian Football League) continue to dominate the participation numbers, Australia’s largest school-based sports participation program, “Sporting Schools”, has broadened its horizons in an effort to encourage students of all interests and skill levels to find their sporting passion.

Currently supporting 35 key national sporting organisations (NSOs) and national sporting organisations for people with disabilities (NSODs), this initiative promises to tempt students away from devices with inventive new challenges, exciting activities and unique opportunities.

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Ready. Set. Trot! Designed for horse lovers everywhere, these speciality programs allow aspiring equestrians to live out their Saddle Club dreams. Equestrian Australia offers several programs that teach students the power of leadership, teamwork, communication and respect as they learn to work on and with horses.   

Equestrian Australia’s dedicated programs cater for primary and secondary students of all skill levels, and include horse management, pony rides, vaulting exercises and more.

Discover the equestrian programs on offer here.


Young girl sailing

Often seen as a sport reserved for the affluent and wealthy, Australian Sailing is breaking that cost of entry barrier for students by offering affordable programs to primary and secondary schools along Australia’s coastline. 

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For the beginners, ‘Tackers’ is a learn-to-sail program for primary school children aged 7 – 12. The program is delivered at recognised Tackers centres across the country, and aims to help students learn new skills through games and adventures as they explore beaches, rivers or lakes.

Australian Sailing also offers OutThere Sailing, an introductory program aimed at older 12 – 14-year-old secondary school students who are keen to experience sailing in a non-competitive, social and fun environment. Although the main focus is on small and big boats, OutThere Sailing activities can also allow participants to try windsurfing, powerboating and stand-up paddle boarding.

Learn more about sailing programs here.


Two boys at a Lacrosse game.

Lacrosse is one of the world’s fastest-growing international sports an Australia’s Quick Stix program helps Australian students get in on the fun. With their “free-flowing” approach to teaching, they make lacrosse both simple to teach and learn and a perfect sport for both primary and secondary school children.

Combining hand-eye coordination and quick decision-making within a social team environment, students who love lacrosse can join a pathway that transitions children towards club-based competitive lacrosse at the youth level.

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Learn more about lacrosse programs here

Ultimate frisbee

Young boys playing Ultimate frisbee

A staple of the HPE classroom, Ultimate Australia has made ultimate frisbee a sporting favourite amongst both primary and secondary programs. Regardless of current physical abilities, using a frisbee instead of a ball can level the playing field among the class, allowing different students to excel as everyone develops new skills.

Ulti-Mates introduces primary students to movement skills through modified games, including throwing and catching a frisbee. Students will also develop a strong foundation in teamwork and fair play skills through an introduction to Ultimate Frisbee’s unique ‘Spirit of the Game’ concept.

Ultimate Australia’s Fly program uses a game-based approach to introduce Year 7 and 8 students to the fun and emerging team sport of Ultimate Frisbee. Learning to throw and catch a frisbee captivates students from the start of the Fly program.

In either program, students will develop their leadership and conflict-resolution skills by implementing self-refereeing and the “spirit of the game” into their matches. 

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Find ultimate frisbee programs here

Dragon boating

Dragon boating team rowing.

The newest national sporting organisation to partner with Sporting Schools, the Australian Dragon Boat Federation introduces the exciting sport of dragon boating to Year 7 and 8 students through their secondary schooling program – Dracademy.

Helping students form a positive sense of community, grit and perseverance, Dracademy Juniors are exposed to the thrilling world of dragon boating through a mix of interactive activities, games, and challenges created specifically for young adventurers aged 10 to 12. 

Dracedemy Juniors places a big emphasis on safety to teach students life skills that will impact the rest of their schooling career and beyond. The program helps nurture resilience and determination in participants and draws on the powerful forces of teamwork and camaraderie to push students beyond their boundaries.

Learn more about dragon boating here


Young kids paddling in the water

Paddle Australia’s Paddle Oz programs provide young people with an enjoyable introduction to paddling that encourages lifelong participation. Offering both a Paddle Discovery and Paddle Ball program, students are encouraged to learn by participating in games and activities. 

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Games like Paddle Ball (a modified version of canoe polo) allow students to develop essential skills and vital safety knowledge that underpin all watercraft handling. By gaining knowledge of the different forms of paddling, making ties to local clubs and understanding further pathways for future development, students are given all the tools they need to pursue paddling outside of the program.

Learn more about Paddle Oz.


Surf Board on the sand

Surfing Australia has made it their mission to provide a fun, safe and educational environment for students along Australia’s coastline.  Programs cover beach games, warm-up drills, core skills, rescue techniques, first aid and important water safety knowledge. 

Their goal is to build the water confidence and surf knowledge of Australian school kids whilst cultivating surf techniques in an inclusive learning environment where students can build lasting relationships in the water. 

Offering classes for primary and secondary students, Surfing Australia offers a wide range of classes catered for all surfing needs. Not quite ready to face the waves on a surfboard? Try checking out their stand-up paddle-boarding classes curated for all skill levels. 

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Learn more about Surfing Australia programs here.

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. Jarrod established his journalism career working on the education news and information site The Bursar. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.