Odd Sports with Hank Baron: Bossaball

Hello kids, it’s Hank Baron, back from a lengthy blogging sabbatical that was as unnecessary as it was unnoticed. But now that I’ve survived this week’s awesome Venuing Launch Party in New York and am safely ensconced in my secret cave headquarters here in Boston, I can get back to the business of working for you, our good readership.

So, let’s get to it, shall we? Excellent, excellent.

You ever wish you could combine the joys of soccer, gymnastics, volleyball, and Afro-Brazilian art form Capoeira? I know I do. Believe me, I’ve spent countless hours running from a soccer match to the beach to catch a volleyball game, then off to watch gymnastics, and by the time I’m kicked out of the gym for being a creepy guy watching seven year olds being pressured to perform by overzealous coaches and parents I barely have enough time to head over to the one Blockbuster that carries that totally awesome 1993 film Only The Strong.

Fortunately, between 2003 and 2005 a Belgian-by-way-of-Spain named Filip Eyckmans became aware of the plight that others like me face every day. According to the bio on the Bossaball site, Filip was a professional tennis player and a DJ on the side. Some time in the early nineties he hooked up with a Brazilian band and became their manager.

I’m guessing he got to a point where he was so busy, he wanted to save time and not give up on doing all these things. That’s when Filip combined the proverbial chocolate and peanut butter.

Folks hanging out at the beach, playing a pickup game of Bossaball

So how do you play this thing?

At its core, Bossaball seems fairly simple. There is a ball that must be volleyed from one side to the other. Each team consists of three to five players, and there are a maximum of eight ball touches before you need to get that hot potato to the other side. Any time you ground the ball on your opponent’s side, you get a point. If you ground it on the trampoline, you get three points. Somewhere in all that you do a lot of cool gymnastics.

Each game is refereed by a “Samba Referee”. The Samba Referee not only calls the game, but also serves as the master of ceremonies and the event’s DJ. Like Capoeira, the music is intended to set the pace and tempo of the game. While a salsa theme is expected, I haven’t seen any indication that the style of music is restricted; so watch out if you get stuck being refereed by someone with a soft spot for all things Mellencamp. I’m just sayin’.

Interestingly enough, the folks at Bossaball International seem to be pretty big on trademark protection. Fearing someone else will co-opt use of their chimera sport, a conspicuous block of text on the front page of their site threatens prosecution if they so much as take a whiff of you thinking of stealing their sport. I wish I’d seen this before I blew two grand on inflatable equipment.

At the moment, there are only a few permanent clubs (Belgium, Holland, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey). However, there are seasonal and temporary teams, and the sport is toured around the world, most recently in Singapore and Brazil. I sent the fine folks at Bossaball International a request for an interview—I’m primarily curious if they’re trying to expand the franchise to the States—but I unfortunately haven’t heard back from them.

In Bossaball, Eyckmans was "looking for a fusion of different body techniques; [a combination of] flexibility, agility and coordination with the elegant ball touch of Zidane…"

I’m not going to lie, I may have freaked them out a little when I asked if there was a chance we could implement a version of Bossaball using large land mammals.

I’m just sayin’, the Elephant Polo guys are making it work.

Official Bossaball site: www.bossaballsports.com


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