Human Foosball

Foosball–or table football–can be traced back to the original patent in the 1890s, according to Wikipedia. Aleandro Finistierre wanted to make a table form of soccer that would be fun for physically challenged children who could not play actual soccer. He commissioned Francisco Altuna to develop the first game. The table game has grown so much that there are competitions and national and international tournaments today.

Almost everyone has walked up to a foosball table at one time or another and tried his or her luck in this high-energy game. Sometimes there’s one person against another. At other times it can be two against two. A player has to move quickly to grab hold of different rods and spin the men round and round. Only the best can flick their wrist in such a way that the ball screams across the table into the goal at the other end. Some games are electronic and automatically tally the score. Others–not so high-tech–require some manual means of scoring. Either way, the excitement and energy are high. The aim of the game is simple–the men suspended on the table spin around and move side to side, with the end result of kicking the ball into the goal at the opponent’s end. It is played similarly to the game of soccer.

Take that 30-inch by 55-inch table, drag it outside, expand its size by eight times, add real people as players, and voilà, you have “human foosball.” Now, instead of two to four players, expand the group to 20, and you have a level of excitement and exhaustion with which no table game can compete.

We first learned of human foosball from a sister camp–North Florida Christian Service Camp–a few years ago. It was a big help in deciding on the size and type of construction, etc. The camp sent pictures and consulted by phone and e-mails.

Constructing The Court

At CampAllendale, the construction of the human foosball court was completed by staff and volunteers. The total cost was around $8,000. The dimensions of the court are approximately 20 feet wide by 50 feet long. The outer perimeter is an 8-foot chain link fence. At each end is an extension that contains the goal. There are entry gates on either side of the court as well as on one side of each goal. The rods are made of galvanized pipe attached through the fence. Sliding around the galvanized pipe is a PVC pipe slightly larger in circumference. It is cut shorter than the width of the court so the PVC pipe can slide back and forth on the galvanized pipe.

Taped to the PVC are hand-holds made of rope. Teams are differentiated by the color of rope used on each side. The hand-holds are made by taking a 3-foot length of rope and duct-taping the middle of the loop to the PVC pipe. You will end up with two loops per person. Each player then places both hands through the loops until they fall around the wrists. For all practical purposes, that player is then attached to the pipe and can only move side to side. There are four rods on each end of the game. The first rod (goalie) has one set of hand-holds, the second rod has two, the third three, and the fourth four. This makes ten players on each end. Beginning at one end, the goalie faces the middle. The first row of two (goalie team) also faces the middle. The third row of three (opposing team) faces the goal. The fourth row of four (goalie team) faces the middle. The same configuration with the opposing team is used on the opposite end.

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