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Bubble soccer craze comes to UTSC

Bubble soccer is now bouncing at UTSC. A dozen bubbles have arrived on campus thanks to a grant to the Scarborough Campus Athletic Association (SCAA) from the Students’ 50th Fund. (Photo by Ken Jones)

Forget skinny jeans and tunic tops; the latest fashion craze at U of T Scarborough is giant, translucent plastic bubbles.

The dozen bubbles arrived on campus in mid-February, thanks to a $5,000 grant to the Scarborough Campus Athletic Association (SCAA) from the Students’ 50th Fund (established to promote the legacy of the campus’ semicentennial) and additional funding from the Department of Athletics & Recreation. They aren’t everyday apparel; they’re the athletic equipment behind one of the latest recreation crazes, bubble soccer.

“We try to bring new, unique experiences to campus,” said Candice Pope, the department’s recreation services and communications assistant. “Students like to try new activities and the sports fashions change.”

The game, apparently invented in Norway in 2011, has spread to cities across North America, even making a stop on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon in February. Equipment rentals are available in Canadian cities from Charlottetown to Vancouver. To date, bubble soccer is played largely at tournaments or for special events, such as corporate team-building, but if its popularity continues to grow, leagues are the next logical step.

Bubble soccer requires players to don the huge bubbles, which encapsulate them from shoulders to hips. Their legs are free, allowing them to play a modified game of traditional soccer – one that is literally much bouncier. When players collide or attempt to steal the ball, they bounce off each other or fall down and roll, and hilarity is bound to ensue.

“It’s something everyone can do and no-one is good at it,” said Pope. “It really levels the playing field for participants.”

Katrina Pilatos, president of the student-run SCAA, and her executive committee were the driving force behind the bubbles.

“It’s something fun and something we’ve never had before,” she said. “We filled out an application for funding and were one of the lucky ones. We’re really happy to have it.”

Like its more traditional cousin, bubble soccer offers players a cardiovascular workout.

“It’s a really good workout,” Pilatos said. “You wouldn’t think so, but it is.”

It is also a great stress reliever, said Pope.

“It’s just before exams, so it’s a good way for students to go out and burn off some stress.”

Since the bubbles arrived, the game has being introduced to students through twice-weekly drop-in sessions at one of the gyms in the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, a smooth surface that is puncture-proof. Each drop-in session has drawn about 50 students, most of whom have never played bubble soccer previously.

In the fall, Pilatos said, the SCAA will hold a tournament open to all-comers and will consider starting an in-house league. The game is played with four or five per side, depending on the size of the gym.

“Drop-in sessions are a good way to introduce it and raise awareness,” Pilatos said. “We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback.”

© University of Toronto Scarborough