Bubble soccer pops into West Bloomfield

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published August 7, 2014

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Soccer has a new twist.

Inspired by a European football trend, the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission will be the first organization in Michigan to launch a unique coed soccer league — bubble soccer — this fall.

According to Ted Davis, recreation superintendent, teams of five people, who must be 21 and older, will play a series of six soccer games while wearing a bubble that is a cross between a sumo wrestling suit and a hamster ball. Davis spent about two months researching the sport and found that leagues have been popping up on the East and West coasts, including Boston, New York and San Diego, he said. Chicago is the next closest league to Michigan.

“We saw it on social media like I’m sure so many people have … and we just loved the idea of it,” Davis said. “It just looked awesome, and we thought, ‘What’s stopping us from bringing it here?’”

The league is open to the region, as opposed to solely West Bloomfield residents, since the West Bloomfield league will be the only league in the area. At press time, Davis said that he had received numerous inquiries, but no teams had registered, which he chalks up to apprehension of the sport.

“I’m sure everyone is wondering how it’s going to feel with that first hit,” he said. Having been in the bubble suit, Davis said people won’t even feel the hit.

The bubbles are 1 1/2 meters in diameter and should fit people 5 feet to 6 feet 4 inches tall. For shorter individuals, Davis said, the ball will sit lower on the legs but it won’t hinder a person’s running abilities.

“The thing that was surprising about it is you don’t think it’s going to be heavy — it’s like having a 25 pound backpack strapped to you. … I think people are going to get a good workout doing this and have a lot of fun.”

Meagan Kurnat, public information officer for the Parks and Recreation Commission, said that as soon as the bubbles arrived, she tried one on. The bubbles, she said, have adjustable straps, which may help for people who are shorter.

Ten teams will play at Drake Sports Park, and each team must have two women on the field at all times. Teams can have a maximum of eight players on the roster. Games start Sept. 12, and single elimination playoffs begin Oct. 24.

The games will consist of two 12 minute halves and a 5-minute halftime. Every player is responsible for cleaning their own bubble, and the Parks and Recreation Commission will provide spray bottles with soapy water and towels. It is recommended that players arrive 15 minutes prior to the game to clean their bubble.

During game time, there are no goalies, and players who fall to the ground are considered “radioactive” until they return to their feet, Davis said.

“I think it’s going to be a great time. … This is about being a kid. That’s all it’s about to me,” Davis said.

Fall registration is limited to 10 teams, and all teams must be registered by Sept. 5.

The league is only open to people 21 and older. Registration costs $325 per team. To register or for the coed bubble soccer league, visit www.westbloomfieldparks.org or call (248) 451-1900. A video and game rules are also available at the Parks and Recreation Commission’s website.

For more information, contact Ted Davis at (248) 451-1910.