As we are firmly in the winter season and forced to stay indoors, people often look for games to play while being confined indoors. One of the games I have always loved is foosball.
So what exactly is foosball?
Foosball is also known as table soccer. It is a table top version of soccer which is played with rods with attached players to move a ball to score goals on opponents. The origin of the game goes back to the late 1890s in England.
I was first introduced to the game of foosball in 1983-84 while stationed at Thule Air Base in Greenland. Obviously there were many opportunities to do anything outside in sub-zero temperatures so entertainment had to be found inside. In the dayroom on my floor of the barracks was a foosball table. My co-worker invited me to play and he was good. He beat me in every game until I got better and eventually began to beat him. Since then I have always been drawn to a foosball table.
Foosball tables can often be found in bars, pubs, workplaces, schools and recreational centers. Each team of one or two human players controls four rows of foos men, one row each for the goalkeeper, defenders, midfield and strikers. Players manipulate the rods to control the figures, using them to hold up, pass or ‘kick’ the ball. The winner is determined when one team scores a predetermined number of goals, typically five, ten or eleven in competition. The professional players can move the ball up to 35 mph.
The International Table Soccer Federation (ITSF) is the international governing organization for the sport. They have organized tournaments all over the world including a World Cup tournament. The next World Cup tournament was scheduled for June 22-27 in Nantes, France but has been postponed to 2022 due to the pandemic. Yannick Correia of Luxemburg is the current top foosball player in the world. Tony Spredeman of the United States was the top player in 2020.
There is also the United States Table Soccer Organization (USTSO) which sponsors tournaments in the United States.
You won’t get rich playing professional foosball. The average salary made playing foosball is about $74,000 a year.
Foosball grew in popularity in the 1970s with the sell of foosball tables and pretty reasonable professional tour. The game was nearly made extinct with the rise of arcade games in the 80s along with the Pacman craze. The game survived and has steadily grown more in recent years. Foosball has even made an appearance in TV shows such as Friends, 90210 as well as the movies “Longshot” and “Underdogs”.
Over the years there have been talks about forming team leagues but nothing has materialized into a legitimate professional team-based league. In researching this area of foosball I have thought that it would help the sport if Major League Soccer (MLS) would sponsor a tournament especially in cities with an MLS team.
If you don’t own a foosball table or have access to one, there are a couple of good video games that I have found. The best is Foosball World Cup game available on iTunes. Another good one is the Foosball Arcade on Oculus Go. I have played both and they are pretty responsive and very realistic in game play.
I don’t get to play foosball as much anymore and my reflexes have slowed down since I first started playing on that foosball table in Thule, Greenland but I still love the game. I hope that the sport will grow and regain its popularity from the 70s.