Do you remember bubble soccer? Or have you never heard of it? Either way, with its built-in “social distancing” measures and laughable amusement, bubble soccer is the sport we all need right now in 2020. But…what is it?
What is bubble soccer?
Bubble soccer is the sport we all need right now. It’s like soccer. And zorbing. And bumper cars. All (literally) rolled into one! And it comes with “social distancing” measures built-in.
Bubble soccer is played much like regular soccer. Players of both teams try to locate and kick a soccer ball into the opponent’s net, like normal, except there’s no goalie. The catch? All the players are strapped into a giant plastic bubble from their midsection to up above their heads.
It’s hilarious to watch and fun to play.
The match begins much like dodgeball. When the whistle blows, the teams of bubble-topped legs rush to the center of the field (or gym) to gain control of the ball. Hilarity ensues as bubbles collide and boing off each other, throwing players to the ground who then struggle un-armed inside their bubbles to get back up with flailing legs like upturned turtles.
Eventually, scores are made and there is a winner. But bubble soccer is more about the spectacle and fun of playing than anything else. Calum Marsh wrote about his first bubble soccer experience in an article in The Guardian saying:
“But the sport isn’t really the focus: crashing is. I bolted toward my wife and moved in for a light check. One tap and she went flying – off her feet and, with an almost audible boing, onto her bubble-protected back.”
It mixes the playful aggression, surprising shock, and lighthearted fun of bumper cars with the overall competitive team goal of soccer, and we are here for it.
Bubble soccer (or “bubble football” overseas) started as a joke by Henrick Elvestad and Johan Gold in 2011 in Norway. Hosts of the Norweigian sports comedy show, Golden Goal, the youtube video of the two playing the silly made-up game on their show went viral in Europe.
Popularity and momentum.
The game was self-financed and spread across the UK by Lee Moseley, and reached New Zealand by 2014.
Bubble soccer began gaining traction in the U.S after getting screen time on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2014,
and in 2015 getting a spot in Good Morning America and being pitched to the Sharks on Shark Tank.
And though it was a “no-deal” from all of the Sharks for business reasons, it was obvious they were very entertained and intrigued by the concept. And so was the rest of America.
Bubble soccer continued gaining momentum worldwide as a smattering of organizations began trying to establish it as a legitimate sport. In 2014 the IBFA (International Bubble Football Association) was founded, and by 2016 over 20 countries were members. In May of 2018, a first-ever Bubble Football World Cup was organized by The Stag Company in Shoreditch, England.
Decline as a sport.
But after 2018, bubble soccer/football as an organized sport seems to have lost its footing. Perhaps the same reasons apply here as to the Sharks when they criticized the pitch of bubble soccer as a league back in 2015 for being disorganized and lacking focus.
The sport we all need right now.
The good news though? You can still play bubble soccer! Just because it is not internationally organized as a sport doesn’t mean it’s gone! Bubble soccer still exists in various forms and independent leagues with different rules that you can join. It is also still a popular attraction for events such as birthday parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties, kids parties, family reunions, and corporate and team-building events. There are also establishments, game centers, and gyms that are designated for bubble soccer, or that offer bubble soccer in various forms. And you can even purchase your own bubbles!
So if you’re staying cautious but itching to play a team sport again, give bubble soccer a try! You’re literally inside a bubble – nose, mouth, AND hands! It is full-contact without the physical contact. It’s like the pandemic-approved sports equivalent of a drive-in movie theater.
And it’s So. Much. Fun.
And maybe bubble soccer is just the comical, lighthearted league sport we all need to come back right now – for real this time. Even “Shark” Mark Cuban was recently reminiscing on TMZ about that one-time bubble soccer was on Shark Tank and suggested the merits of the idea. “Maybe we’ll have a bubble ball [soccer] league and that’ll be the first sport that comes back!”
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