Bubble Football is a variation on Association Football and a unique mix between five-a-side football with NFL tactics and Rugby hits. It is a very new sport which has only been around the last couple of years.
Due to the need for inflatable bubble it is often up to event companies to buy and provide them for special events. Bubble Football has proven popular for corporate teambuilding, birthday groups and stag do’s. While it has always had a fun side with mini-games there has never been a gathering of serious players with a single set of rules, and this is what the Bubble Football World Cup hopes to achieve.
Bubble football’s components are not new in any way. Football is the most popular sport on the planet so many people understand that concept, while the use of inflatable balls is in use for things like Zorbing. Combining them however is new and so the tactics change radically because of the joining of the two.
The History Of Bubble Football
Bubble football in its current format was actually the result of a comedy bit on a Norwegian television show called Golden Goal in 2011. Presenters Henrik Elvestad and Johan Golden are therefore officially the inventors. Their clip of the crazy idea went viral on platforms like YouTube. It became an overnight hit and wildly popular in Scandinavia and northern Europe, especially Germany.
We can thank a Lee Moseley of Bracknell for bringing the game to our shores and having the foresight to recognise its potential with a British audience. He was an asbestos surveyor by day before building the business of his dreams at night. Moseley had the vision to take the Norwegian TV idea and turn it into the sport we see today. It wasn’t easy however. He relied on his wife and friends to finance the making of a perfect bubble football bubble. He managed to make it work and experienced great success, “We have had a overwhelming response to the game and everybody who has taken part has really enjoyed themselves. It’s not something that I think I’ll ever get bored of doing either, as just watching people play is hilarious.”
Bubble Football Facts
The biggest exponent of the sport is the USA. This is thanks to their large population and penchant for alternative sports (jai alai was an actual thing here). The man behind this push for Bubble Soccer, as it is known across the pond, was John Radosta who even went on Shark Tank (America’s version of Dragon’s) and pitched the sport for financing to get it off the ground. While he was unsuccessful in the tank it did not mean a jot for the sport as the mere exposure of bubble football on TV meant it had built up a tremendous audience. Radosta’s sales of equipment went through the roof. He is also President of the National Association of Bubble Soccer in the USA. This organisation boasts 39 leagues across the country. Each of these have 8-12 competing. There has even been talk of a Bubble Bowl taking place in Las Vegas, but since 2014 when the sport truly arrived in America, there has been no major tournament.
In the UK participation is ever growing. The sport itself has only been around since 2014 but it has been growing year on year from this moment. 55,000 people are expected to play the sport this year in the UK and more and more of those are at their own fun days and less corporate events. Friends are now getting together to play a game or two themselves and with five-a-side football already hugely popular in the countr,y only a few organised leagues could attract some great teams.
Since its appearance on Norwegian television Bubble football has become a legitimate sport with its own rules and built a fan base that can be found across half the world. There are 48 national teams already with the best representing at 2018. The potential for this sport to entertain and thrill is there and The Stag Company are going to bring it to the masses with the first big Bubble Football World Cup.
How Do You Play Bubble Football
The obvious big difference from whatever you have played before is the bubble. It is a donut shaped ball where the player can slide it over themselves, keeping their arms tucked in. The bubble will cover the top half only, leaving the legs free to run around. The bubble allows the players to not only hit into other players but also to take the hits and falls of a match without being hurt. In fact, the only dangerous part of the bubble is getting in and out of it!
As for the rest of the kit. Light clothes are advised as you will overheat in the bubble otherwise. You should also wear shoes without any spikes. They won’t work on the surfaces and are also dangerous when bouncing around as they could scratch others or burst the bubble (pun intended).
The format of the games is very similar to a five-a-side football match. The pitch will be the same and so are the number of players. The pitch is enclosed as throw ins are obviously impossible. The match is adjudicated by a referee who is there to call up on any fouls and to keep the game organised. Chaos is not unheard of when you’re in the bubble.
Each half will take five minutes and there is a five-minute break in-between. The short matches are because of the physical excursion it takes to play the game. Not only are you inside a bubble but also you cannot use your arms to help lever your running.
One of the key differences of the game is that there are no goalkeepers on the pitch. Instead it is up to the team to organise the tactic for having a player staying deep and protecting the net.
When everyone can hit other players, it is important to have some rules to make it something a bit more civilised. While you can bump anyone no matter whether they have the ball or not, you cannot hit them from behind. There are strict rules on this as you don’t want to give anyone whiplash. You are also not allowed to hit players lying on the ground or trip anyone up when you are on the ground. It is up to the referee to monitor all this and he also has the ability to punish players for what he perceives as over-aggression.
What Does The Future Hold For Bubble Football?
While there are big leagues in America and certain countries in northern Europe has discovered some popularity, the future is bright, but there is work to do. The industry is hoping to introduce it to many more countries and make the sport more widely played, preferably outside of specialised events like stag do’s.
The Bubble Football World Cup is one of those events which will help promote the sport across the world. The small followings in the countries that do play will elevate the sport, and of course there will be a champion country and players who can claim fame as the best footballers inside bubbles.
In the more immediate future the hosts of the tournament England need to find themselves a team. The country has been instrumental in introducing the sport and showcasing it but does not have the team to show for it yet. The England Qualifier tournament on June 25th is an amazing opportunity to introduce fresh players to the sport and find some future stars of England. Bubble Moore or Geoff Burst are waiting to lift another trophy and if it could be the World Cup not only could England be the home of football, but also the home of Bubble Football. An entire world will be trying to stop that though in May 2018.