Play­ing ball, with a twist

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ALYWIN CHEW in Shang­hai

alywin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

For sports en­thu­si­asts who are look­ing for al­ter­na­tive means to keep fit, there are two in­ter­est­ing vari­a­tions of some of the world’s most pop­u­lar ball games that can be found in Shang­hai.

A unique vari­a­tion of bas­ket­ball, called slam­ball, ar­rived in China in 2012. Played on a court fit­ted with tram­po­lines, play­ers get to per­form ac­ro­batic stunts as they make their way to the bas­ket for a spec­tac­u­lar slam dunk.

The rules of the game are largely sim­i­lar to reg­u­lar bas­ket­ball but dunks score three points in­stead of two. There is cur­rently one slam­ball fa­cil­ity in Shang­hai’s Min­hang dis­trict, called the Shang­hai Slash­ers Slam­ball Train­ing Cen­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to Hitch Liao from Slam­ball China, most of the par­tic­i­pants in this sport are Chi­nese col­lege stu­dents as the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been work­ing hard to pro­mote the sport in schools since its es­tab­lish­ment in Shang­hai.

“Slam­ball has reached an agree­ment with many Chi­nese uni­ver­si­ties to set up train­ing cen­ters on their cam­pus, and th­ese in­sti­tutes will also of­fer slam­ball cour­ses that al­low stu­dents who par­tic­i­pate to gain school credit,” said Liao.

“Fur­ther­more, ad­di­tional slam­ball cen­ters are al­ready un­der con­struc­tion and we can soon ex­pect to see thriv­ing pro­fes­sional and col­lege tour­na­ments in China.”

With re­gard to soc­cer, fit­ness en­thu­si­asts in Shang­hai can opt to play a fun vari­a­tion which re­quires them to ma­noeu­vre while in a plas­tic sphere filled with air. Called bub­ble foot­ball, the fun part of the game is un­doubt­edly be­ing able to throw one­self at op­po­nents with­out in­cur­ring a foul. There are no ded­i­cated bub­ble foot­ball fa­cil­i­ties in the city, but com­pa­nies such as Sport for Life are able to de­liver the re­quired equip­ment to most lo­ca­tions in the city.

David Sid­dall, gen­eral man­ager of Sport for Life, noted that the game has been en­joy­ing in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity among ex­pa­tri­ates and lo­cals.

“While about 70 per­cent of our clients are for­eign­ers, we are be­gin­ning to see a lot of re­peat cus­tomers from the lo­cals who have had the op­por­tu­nity to play bub­ble foot­ball in a cor­po­rate or team­build­ing event. The lo­cal pop­u­la­tion is definitely tak­ing to bub­ble foot­ball and we are see­ing a change in at­ti­tudes to sport par­tic­i­pa­tion in gen­eral,” said Sid­dall.

“The games tend to turn into a fun af­fair of bumper cars. It’s also a great work out for the whole body. You will definitely feel the ef­fects of play­ing the next day,” added Sid­dall.

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Slam­ball and bub­ble foot­ball pro­vide en­thu­si­asts with novel ways of play­ing con­ven­tional sports.

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