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Vinlandic explorers first described the game now known as Háflaeykir in the early 1200s when they began trading in earnest with the Ochangara. It differed from the similar game played further south by the use of sticks to move the small hard ball around. The two or day long games were often played between whole tribes or villages often to settle disputes instead of waging war, and great honour would be bestowed on the winners. Vinlanders and Álengsk were playing a scaled down version by the early 1500s on feast days like Midsummer. It would remain a occasional sport until the rules were codified, simplified and game length drastically shortened by teachers at the prestigious Wolinak School in Abernakriga in around 1849. It spread amongst schools until towns began to create similar teams. Most nations now have leagues and national cups where the local teams play each other.
Betting on games is rife and many nations regulate this by restricting it to licensed betting accountants. A few games have been broadcast over the nascent wireless networks and the programmes that discuss and comment on the matches are widely popular. Many commentators have said that this continued level of interest and devotion to the game will eventually turn Háflaeykir into a professional game where the players have no job other than playing Háflaeykir. This would however require extra funding from some other source.
Played on a 100m x 55m pitch, 10 players on each side use sticks with nets to move the small ball around and attempt to score goals. Once captured, the ball must be advanced to the other team's side within 20 seconds. If in the other team's side a goal shot must occur within 20 seconds.
The game lasts 60 minutes of normal time split into 4 quarters. Two 5 minutes overtimes are played in drawn games.
The game is fast and physical and players wear padding to prevent serious injury.
The Niskayuna Cup and other tournaments
The first international game of modern Háflaeykir was played between the Six Nations and Kanienmark in 1899. The game was wildly popular and was repeated yearly. Many neighbouring countries asked to join and the tournament slowly widened. In 1988 the first championship of the Niskayuna Cup was played between 16 nations. After a very successful tournament it was agreed to hold the cup every four years with any sovereign nation allowed to compete. This has now led to an extensive pre-tournament knock-out to wittle the 50 or so competing nations down to a manageable 32. How to weigh this qualification for the European teams is a serious discussion topic for the organisers.
The original Kanienmark v Six Nations tournament has evolved into the 7 Nations Cup as the Kanienmark team plays the separate nations' teams of the Six Nations. Seneca are the current champions of this tournament three years running.
The last championship took place in 2012 in Mamaceqtawia with 32 competing nations. It marked the first time a non-Leifian team competed, as both Estonia and Fryslân qualified for the tournament. Estonia eventually came a respectable 3rd.
Previous Niskayuna Cups
Estonia hosted the first official European Championship Cup in June 2013. The 32 teams were invited rather than having to qualify. As the favourites Estonia advanced to the final but were beaten by Lippe. Munster-Westphalia beat Man in the play-off to claim third place.