Charging around a pitch inside a huge balloon, bubble football is to the beautiful game what the dodgems are to motorsport - great fun.
Having a go with the team from Coasters Indoor football centre and Fife Bubble Football ahead of the centre’s open day on Saturday I’d watched some clips on the internet.
Imagine a giant hamster ball, or the Atlaspheres round from the Gladiators TV show. Like that one, only the strong survive.you’ve got to be strong – those bubbles are deceptively heavily – especially when you’ve been body-checked from behind and are scrambling like a woodlouse on it’s back.
“Follow the ball,” yelled Alistair Hutton who runs the bubbles as everyone on the pitch waged their own little bouncing battles oblivious to the ball , empty goal and supposed purpose of the game. Let’s be honest, football takes a back-seat in this scenario.
“There wasn’t much technical play out there,” admited one of our players, Andrew Lauder afterwards, with just a small hintof irony.
It’s a bit like football, a bit like American football in that you’re allowed to block, tackle and hit your opposition - or in our game anyone within your vicinity. Stag do central basically.
Surprisingly, the concept only arrived on these shores two years ago and though it has TV roots has little to do with ‘Its a Knock-Out’, Total Wipeout or Takeshi’s Castle. It arose in China then was broadcast on TV in Norway and filtered through to the UK.
Alistair admits the majority of his bookings come at Coasters, which opened as a football centre just under a year ago. It also offers coaching classes for youngsters, indoor leagues and birthday parties as well as this demolition derby - catering for both ends of the football spectrum.
We’d invited a few pro players along but the League One and Championship outfits refused permission incase of injury, but it’s very safe. You’re surrounded by inflatable protection the like of which some continental wingers wish they should be.
You’re strapped into the protective bubbles with two over-the-shoulder harnesses and hold handles inches from your chin for balance. Not that it gives you much more poise.
You can get stuck upside down, roll about, flip head-over-heels in one move, but the key skill aside from footballing prowess is how to get back up. Rocking back and forward seemed to work, slipping out the bubble and back in seemed to too. You are a little drained and disorientated from the impact at times, but never in any pain. Indeed Chris McCall winced more at Easter Road on Sunday afternoon than he did at Coasters on Friday in a weekend of hard knocks for our Hibs supporting Denny reporter.
He, like I, thoroughly enjoyed it, but then he says he’s used to watching a bunch of balloons chase the ball of an hour...
For more details on Fife Bubble Football or Coasters visit their respective Facebook sites or call (01324) 634449.
Coasters is hosting an open day with taster sessions on Saturday (May 31).