A new sport is starting to take root in Chattanooga.
It's bubble soccer.
The sport first started gaining traction in Europe. Next, as is the case these days, a video was posted on YouTube. In this instance, it was a clip out of Italy.
Chattanooga Sports Leagues director Tommy Travers saw it and started pondering, "Well, why wouldn't it be good? Especially for Chattanooga, we're such a progressive city, why can't we have it here?"
CSL bought 16 balls, eight in blue and eight in yellow. Four of each of those eight are smaller for ladies to wear.
The way the game works is you climb inside these huge, plastic balls. Velcro straps will greet you once you climb inside the tunnel in the center of the bubble. Slide your arms inside the straps, tighten them down, grab the handles and it's game on.
The only part of your body exposed is your legs, from the knees down. Next, a soccer ball is dropped into the mix. When players chase after it, inevitably, tremendous and quite funny tumbles happen. Many of them.
CSL has displayed the game a couple of times in front of the Chattanooga Football Club home crowds. It's been well received. "I think the strategy, after the first week, when everybody gets the hang of it, when they bash each other and they've had enough of that, they're going to actually physically play soccer," Travers said.
The game is played with small goals and additional soccer balls are added to further energize the game. Typically, three to five people play on each side. CSL has yet to launch a full-fledged league. They're still in the test phase and really are searching for the perfect locales to play. Travers noted, "Really facilities without a whole lot of objects that can puncture them. Something that has lights so we can run games both sort of in the afternoon and into the night where it cools down because they will get hot."
Indeed, they do.
This morning, Justin Jones climbed inside of one for the first time. "It was great, it was fun, rolling around, bouncing into people without pain feels great," Jones said.
The bubble balls come with a considerable cost. After seeing the YouTube video, CSL started researching. They couldn't find a supplier in America, but found one in Chattanooga. The bubble balls cost about $350 apiece, so there is a considerable investment. And, there is no warranty. "We're kind of stuck. If they don't work, then we're out the money for them. But we felt like the risk was worth the reward of having them here."
And Travers believes bubble soccer will not only take off, but also give exposure to some of CSL's other sports. "The whole design of this (bubble soccer) is to bring people together for fun, sports and social."
The target date for launching the league is sometime in July. It will be coed and open to anyone 21 and older. Also, the game is physically exerting. Travers has been inside several bubbles and played several times. "It's a workout. I guess people don't realize how much of a physical workout it is, from bouncing around and running. It's a good 30 pounds on your back, that you're having to run around for five or six minutes."
If all goes as planned, CSL hopes to have multiple seasons: two in the summer, two in the fall and two in the winter. Players will be asked to sign waivers. The league hasn't opened yet, but TO FIND OUT MORE, CLICK HERE.by John Madewell