Bubble Soccer, as you might have guessed from the image above, is a game in which every player wears a giant plastic bubble while playing soccer. It’s like any normal soccer game, except you bounce off of your opponent and crash wildly to the floor. But it’s cool, you’re in a bubble so it doesn’t hurt too much. April 4 saw a very special event, one of only a few ever held in Japan, at the Ramos Ruy Indoor Futsol Field in Tokyo. Participants were invited to try their hand at this crazy sport and we showed up for the occasion.
- Originally from Norway
If you’ve never heard of Bubble Soccer, you’re not alone. It turns out, the sport was created for a variety show that aired in Norway and has since spread all over the world. Japan’s first attempt at Bubble Soccer occurred on February 22 of this year, so it’s a relatively new phenomenon. The April 4 event that we attended was the 11th time Bubble Soccer had ever been played in Japan and according to event organizers, every game of Bubble Soccer has been completely full. What’s more, 40 percent of participants are women.
▼ Here it is in action.
- The rules are quite simple…as is putting on the bubble
Games are 5v5 and the rules are pretty much the same as a normal futsol (indoor soccer) game. However, since everyone is encased in a bubble ball, there are no goal keepers. Putting on the bubble ball is just as easy – just stick your upper torso inside and you’re done. The only hard part (and something we couldn’t stop laughing about) is if you fall down face-up, it’s extremely difficult to get back up. The only way to get out of a turtle pose is to roll yourself over so you’re facing the floor, bend your knees, and hope that when you stand up you don’t fall over on your back again.
▼ The ball was bigger than our reporter expected!
▼ You have to make sure it’s full of air before getting in.
▼ Putting on the ball. It’s only shortcoming is that it’s hard to see out of.
▼ Our reporter tries on the ball…she says it might be a little heavy for some girls.
- It doesn’t hurt even if you run into the wall
Before the match, all of the players got ready by doing a bit of “practice.” Body slams, wall dives, rolling around on the floor, jumping…It was the funnest warm-up ever! Our reporter was feeling a bit daring and decided to charge at the wall full speed and *boing* she bounced right off. It was a sensation she’d never felt before and she couldn’t help but laugh. And even though she ran straight into the wall, it didn’t even hurt.
- Easy enough for futsol beginners
At the event, there were teams of men who regularly play futsol along with two full teams of girls who never really play. Our reporter thought her group of girls was going to definitely have a tough time having any chance against really good players, but that actually wasn’t the case. Since no one, not even regular futsol or soccer players, are used to running around with a giant bubble around their body, everyone’s sort of a beginner. In addition, it’s almost impossible to dribble the ball or complete a decent pass when everyone’s body slamming each other. And since it’s so much more fun to send your opponent sailing through the air instead of going for the ball, everyone was on an even playing field.
- Who cares about the score?
The characteristic of Bubble Soccer that stands out the most is that everyone who’s playing cares more about bashing into one another than actually winning. Of course, you keep score and there is a winner and loser, but everyone is laughing so hard and having so much fun to care about what the score is. Our reporter asked her 28-year-old female teammate to give us her impression of Bubble Soccer. Here’s what she had to say: “It was a little hard to breathe, but it was so much fun! I’ve played futsol before but this is something entirely different!”
Bubble Soccer is definitely a sport for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, in shape or a couch potato, tall or short; anyone and everyone will enjoy playing. And you don’t even have to join one of the special Bubble Soccer events – Bubble ball rentals are are available so get out there and start body slamming!
▼ Our reporter’s team. Look at those smiles, we’d call that a success!
Ramos Ruy Field
2 Chome-11-2 Shinonome, Kōtō-ku, Tōkyō-to
[ Read in Japanese ]