Kick and tell

Phorum Dalal enters a human foosball pit and scores a foul or two

Thanks to Joey and his FRIENDS, we have tried our hand at a game of table foosball, a craze that hit the US and the world after it featured in the American sitcom. But it did not prepare us for a game of human foosball we played last week. KidZania, the kids activity centre in Ghatkopar, has created a 25-feet by 16-feet life-size rectangular pit, with five rows of rods running parallel like in a foosball table. A referee joins the pit, shouting out rules, and keeping an eye out for fouls, which we made many. The 10-point game lasts about 25 minutes.

A game of human foosball at Kidzania, in Ghatkopar. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
A game of human foosball at Kidzania, in Ghatkopar. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

The yellow and brown teams have six players each, who take their position facing their goal post like in a football game, with a goalie manning the mouth at each end.

The rules are clear — you pass the ball from under the rods, you cannot bounce the ball nor lift your hands off the individual moveable plastic tubes on the rod. And if you are dodging the ball with an opponent behind you, you cannot look bak and stretch your leg out into their territory. Every fowl earns the opponent team a free kick from the centre of the pit.

We put on our grip gloves and take a spot in the centre row. Yellow team captain, 12-year-old Aniruddh Singh, gives us a preliminary nod. The whistle goes off, and we are left chasing the ball with our eyes alone. When it does come our way, we kick it towards an opponent.

“Aunty!” Singh barks.

And, we promise to gear up, and excel this team sport.

The next 10 minutes are a mix of goals and fouls, one thanks to that kick that sent the ball flying out of the pit. Our triumphant look is met with what-were-you-thinking glares.

Singh takes the goal post now, not leaving anything to chance.

This is not football, we tell ourselves and focus on the game. We are leading with nine points, and one goal is in the way of our victory. Hands stuck to moveable plastic caps on the rods, and feet kicking in every direction, the brown team catches up with seven points.

By now, there are people cheering for the yellow team to score that last goal, and parents as well as kids are shouting, “Common, yellow team.” In a stroke of luck, an opening, clear of shark feet, gives way to a clean goal. As we bend down to exit the pit, Singh whispers, “Good game.”

Yes, indeed.

WHAT: Human foosball
WHEN: 2-3 PM, 4-8 PM, till April 30
WHERE: R-City Mall, Ghatkopar
CALL: 39553700
COST: Rs 500 - Rs 1,100

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