Zorb football, otherwise known as “bubble football”, is a new game that is a hybrid of football and zorbing. Here, a participant plays football while he is enclosed in a zorb—a clear, inflatable plastic sphere that allows the player to bounce and roll. This game can be played indoors or outdoors, although the former requires a large space to accommodate around five to fourteen players.
The game follows a set of rules that is inspired by football, with a few tweaks to suit the movements of the players within the playing grounds. Since its inception in 2011, bubble football has been gaining in popularity in many parts of the globe, including the UK, USA, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.
It all started as a joke. Norwegians Henrik Elvestad and Johan Golden thought it would be cool to play football while encased in a zorb. This is the same idea they shared through their TV show called “Golden Goal”. Soon, the popularity of the game picked up pace when British entrepreneur Lee Moseley, who formerly works as an asbestos surveyor, started to market the idea in the UK.
Due to the oddness of the “sport”, many of the investors Moseley had met were apprehensive to finance the idea and flatly turned him down. But instead of getting discouraged, Moseley took it up to himself and used his own resources to build a company that will produce the zorbs necessary for the sport.
Mechanics of the game
The objective of the game is much like in football which is to get the ball over a goal line while dodging tacklers. However, to do so would require bumping into opponents’ bubbles to gain possession of the ball. Their free legs are all they need to get the ball moving. With hands completely encased in the inflatable sphere, the goalie would have to let the ball bounce off his plastic suit to prevent the ball from entering the goal.
There are also some rules that are unique to bubble football. For example, it is prohibited to make excessive force bumps with opponents without the intention of controlling the ball or clearing its path. This act is penalized with a two-minute penalty or for worst cases, the players involved are ejected from the game.
Defending the ball from opponents gets more fun as there is the tendency for the players to roll over when they bump against each other. Since mobility is limited, the game typically needs two referees who will assist the participants in getting back up on their feet. Due to the physical limitations and various tackling scenarios, the game is usually shortened to around six to seven minutes per quarter.
The bubble suits have a donut-shaped hole above the head to enable the wearer to breathe without difficulty. To ensure the player’s safety, the zorbs have straps and handles that secure the wearer inside the sphere. Perhaps the only inconveniences that the wearer might experience are the lack of ample room for adjustment and the fact that the bubble suit is heavy and hot inside. Players will eventually get drenched in sweat after the game. Also, being top-heavy, the players might easily stumble once they are upright.
Sports enthusiasts suggest that individuals suffering from claustrophobia and vertigo should refrain from playing bubble football as it may escalate health risks. Similarly, those who have large physiques may not be able to fit inside the bubble suits so they are also discouraged from playing the game.
There are several occasions which are ideal for playing bubble football. Among them are corporate team-building activities and fundraisers. Although bubble football can be as serious as an ordinary football game, one cannot help but laugh at players who bump and bounce off each other in desperate attempts to defend the ball. It is indeed a light-hearted way to enjoy the contact sport without running the risk of broken legs and ankles.