Playing ball, with a twist
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.
Slamball and bubble football provide enthusiasts with novel ways of playing conventional sports.