THE Hartamas Tigers Table Football Club successfully organised the first ever Federation International of Sports Table Football (FISTF) sanctioned Subbuteo tournament in the country at the Hartamas Shopping Complex.
The tournament saw a mix of young and old local players of both the Hartamas Tigers and Singaporean Table Football Association of Singapore (TFAS) pitting their flicking skills in replica stadiums of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Sports table football or better known as Subbuteo, will bring a rush of memories to folks of a certain vintage and the game they used to play while growing up is now seeing a resurgence — thanks to the efforts of the Hartamas Tigers.
The game, which adheres to the rules of association football as closely as possible, demands a high level of hand-eye coordination and good sense of timing.
The aim is to flick weighted figurines with polished bases on a baize fabric pitch towards the opposing goal and there is a myriad of configurations of figurine players to choose from, be it from national teams or league clubs and sometimes special editions pieces.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who has always been a fan of Subbuteo, graced the event to show support. He took time to flick a few shots with one of the world’s top players, Kaspar Bennett from England.
Khairy said with kids playing a lot of football games on their gaming consoles nowadays, it is a good thing to get them involved in activities that utilise motor skills.
“It (Subbuteo) has to take root properly, have more clubs and schools playing it. In the age of digital games, this is something refreshing,” he added.
Organiser and co-founder of the Hartamas Tigers Jamie Kong aims to grow the game into something bigger with more tournaments and a greater number of participants.
“We are going through the procedure of forming an association, which we have just started a few weeks ago.
“We plan to raise the visibility of upcoming tournaments and generate better players who can form their own club, such as in schools apart from private clubs.
Kong, who also runs a tuition centre, shared that the long-term goal is to see more Malaysian youth playing the enjoyable game and hopes to see the next generation join the initiative.
According to Kong, there are many promotional events coming including another tournament in December during the school holidays as well as an event for Subbuteo collectors called Subbuteo Classic.
The Hartamas Tigers Subbuteo club will hold their next promotional tournament at the Empire Shopping Gallery in Subang Jaya tomorrow and Sunday from 1pm to 9pm in front of Toys “R” Us.
“One of the good points (of Subbuteo) is that the players can learn all the rules of football as the fundamentals of both games are the same.
Former world No. 2 Kaspar Bennett describes Subbuteo as a mixture of snooker in terms of accuracy, and chess for its tactical element, and of course football, which the game tries to emulate.
“You’ll need good hand-eye coordination and like most sports one needs patience for the training because it is a difficult game to master.” said the 24-year Subbuteo veteran who regularly puts in 10 hours of training a week.
The 29-year-old Englishman who only planned for a week-long holiday, ended up staying for two months mentoring the youths of the Hartamas Tigers club and helping to promote the game locally.
“My goal here is to improve the young players as much as possible with the aim of getting one of them to reach the latter stages of the (Subbuteo) World Cup finals.” he shared.
A total of 31 players, including locals and Singaporeans as well as a Frenchman, participated in the inaugural meet which had an air of excitement and camaraderie among players from both countries.
The open category saw players in six groups battle it out to make it to the quarterfinals which culminated with the former European Junior Champion Ouabi Rouis from France securing the title with a 1-0 scoreline, beating Singapore’s Den Mulia who is the current Asian number one.
Meanwhile a strong performance by the Singaporean juniors during the group stage saw them securing three out of four places heading into the semifinals along with Malaysia’s Vishnu Varthana Sundram.
Maintaining their form in the knockout stage, juniors Giovanni Choong, Luke Lim and Isaac Lim from across the causeway secured the top three places with Vishnu managing a fourth place.