Sunday, June 22, 2003

Where do we go from here? One fooser's perspective.

Byline: Din Syazman Isham.

6 years ago, I started playing foosball. I took to it like a newly hatched turtle finding its way to the sea. Many of those I played with had already been playing for a while. Many have since quit. But those that remained have gone to reach great heights and along the way have passed their knowledge and experience on to a whole new generation of foosers. And foosball has become more than just a spin-the-rod and hope game but has become a sport in its own right with rules, organizations, clubs and tournaments. Even before I started playing, there were those who pushed the sport. Pushing to see the sport become mainstream & accepted by the public not as a game where people pretend to be Pele or Maradonna but as a sport where people will try to reach the standards set by people like Terry Moore, Todd Loffredo et al.

Foosball in Malaysia has grown, expanded and touched so many people over the past 6 years. What was once "just something to do on a boring Friday" became "the only thing to do EVER". I see it in the faces of many people - their complete obsession with the sport, their absolute commitment to it.
We, the foosball community of Malaysia, have many to thank for the growth and expansion of the sport here in Malaysia but a few key names come to mind. These people have pushed the sport hard. They have their own reasons but whatever it is, I would like to say thank you for all your efforts and may you not give up on us.

Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor have seen the birth of many brilliant foosers. The Mild Seven Nationals and the FM tourneys have highlighted a few key players and it is up to these key players to push foosball's expansion onwards by passing some of their knowledge, wisdom and experience to a new generation and hoping that this new generation will carry the sport to heights and territories as yet untouched.

It took me about a year to get my basics down. I had foosers who were willing to sit with me and discuss how I can improve my game and strengthen my weaknesses, they showed me what the basics were, ball control, anticipation, timing and all that, to these people, a big thank you. The new generation of foosers today have advantages that I never had and as a result, their improvement and mastery of the basics can be measured in a matter of months. The internet, club competitions, DYPs, a growing community of friendly and helpful foosers as well as an expanding level of exposure to the sport has critically reduced the time for someone new to the game to achieve their goals (pun intended).

The ladies deserve special mention here. When I started playing, the number of female foosers playing competitively was virtually zero. Times have changed. Female players have shown that they have what it takes physically and mentally to play the game at the highest level. And the numbers are growing. It was only a matter of time.

And that's where we are today. Foosball joints have sprouted all over the Klang Valley and I hope this is not just a trend. More people are being exposed to the sport than ever before and it would be a shame if all this progress were for naught.

But as the title of this article states where do we go from here? How do we bring this revolution (and I do sincerely mean a revolution) to its climax and bring about a phenomenal change in the public's attitude towards the sport as well as expanding the current base of players? How do we reach the other states within Malaysia? Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor have seen an explosion in new foosers, but is this enough? What about Terengganu, Negri Sembilan, Kelantan, Kuantan and so on? What is the foos scene like in these areas? How exposed are they? And the big question, are they ready? Will they accept foosball as a sport?

It would be great to go to the next M7 nationals and seeing whole new faces. You never know, if the numbers keep growing then M7 might revert to its old practice of rotating cities for the finals instead of having it only in KL (*sigh* those were the days).

Only time will tell where foosball will go from here. 6 years ago, foosball seemed like just another pub game destined for nothingness. Here I am today, playing foosball with people from all over Asia and the middle east. How times have changed.

I pray that the only way to go from here is forward.

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