Pretty steep: Extreme Alpine Soccer with the Sprinter.

Pretty steep: Extreme Alpine Soccer with the Sprinter.

A group of Austrian footballers has invented a new extreme sport which is rumoured to be the toughest kind of football: "Extreme Alpine Soccer". They only play on the steepest of slopes in the Alps.

Everything is harder in the Alps – football is no different.

Green slopes, cows, Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses: there are so many stereotypical things we expect to find in the Alps. But football wouldn't tend to be one of them. Yet a group of locals from Montafon in Austria see things a little differently. According to them, the football played in France is easy – anyone can do it – so they've taken it up a notch. Level areas the size of football pitches are rarely found in the Alps and, when you do find one, it’s usually being used for something else. This is why Extreme Alpine Soccer was invented.

The only way is up.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 in Montafon.    

Normal football is boring.

"Anyone can play on flat pitches," says Alois Gantner, trainer of the 'Supa Burschis' team. "In Montafon, we only play on the steepest slopes we can find." Alongside the sport’s inventors, Franz Mair and Peppi Knünz (who is also the coach of the 'Gipfelstürmer' team), Alois is one of Extreme Alpine Soccer's mainstays. Mair and Knünz first had the idea for the sport during the 2014 Football World Cup. "We were watching the games and found them very boring," says Mair. "Then, Peppi said to me: 'The way they play isn’t hard enough and they should try running up and down our mountains. They'd soon be out of breath…' And then we thought: 'They might not even be able to play – but us and our lads, we'd manage it!'." Soon afterwards, they had found enough players to make up two teams, with everyone mucking in to prepare the pitch.

Taking the Sprinter to a quite different kind of football pitch.

Extreme Alpine Soccer players need a lot of strength and stamina in order to cope with the high physical demands of playing in the mountains. The vehicle that takes them to the games must also bring particular qualities to the table… it must be large and spacious enough for both equipment and players to fit comfortably. It must also be able to navigate through tight, twisting mountain passes and, in an emergency, it must also be able to cross meadows, too – the Sprinter 4x4 is perfect for this. The quality of the roads doesn’t matter… you can always count on the Sprinter to reliably bring the teams to the match.

Extreme sport: "Alpine Soccer" – with the Sprinter 4x4.

A group of Austrian footballers has invented a new extreme sport: "Extreme Alpine Soccer". This is rumoured to be football at its toughest, as it’s only played on the steepest slopes.

The all-rounder.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 conquers steep gravel tracks in the Austrian mountains with ease.

Sport with a view.

Only the steepest slopes come into question for Extreme Alpine Soccer.

Playing football on slopes.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 4x4 on the empty pitch shortly before kick-off.    

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