This article first appeared on the ABC News Australia website – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-11/australias-unheralded-subbuteo-team-beats-japan/8607988
By Tracey Holmes
Australia faces Japan in Subbuteo Asian Cup.
Photo: Table football can be a tense affair. Multiply that a few times when its played in the Asian Cup. (Australian Table Football (Subbuteo) Association)
There are no fancy uniforms, no Sports Commission grants, nor a single dollar in sponsorship.
To be brutally honest, there’s not even much fanfare for this team of unheard-of Australians, in a little known sport, who this weekend celebrated their first overseas victory since 1994.
The event is the Asia Cup. The sport is table football, or Subbuteo.
Never heard of it? Never mind. You have now.
Australia plays Japan in Subbuteo Asian Cup
Photo: Australia cobbled together a team in time for the Asian Cup, even flying in one team member from Sweden. (Australian Table Football (Subbuteo) Association)
The event is being played in Tokyo and the Australians spent last night celebrating a 3-1 win over Japan.
Australian team spokesman Steve Dettre told The Ticket “people may laugh but it’s like any sport, you play at a pretty high level and it’s quite tense”.
“Some of the best players in Asia are here, actually some of them are ranked in the top 50 in the world,” he said.
“It’s quite a challenge playing at this level … like the game I just played, one mistake and the other guy scored, so it’s pretty hectic.
“We’ve got about 200 to 300 players in Australia now. It doesn’t sound like a lot but we started from ground zero and we let everybody know the Asia Cup was coming up … so we put together a team.
“We got a guy from Perth, two are from Sydney and an Aussie guy flew in from Sweden.”
There are six nations, including Australia, to contest the prestigious ‘Open’ event on Sunday. Saturday featured a veteran’s comp and the Nation’s Cup — featuring Japan, Singapore and Australia.
Australia’s Subbuteo factfile:
Our highest ranked international Table Football player is Melbourne TFC’s Peter Thomas, ranked 40th in the world
The Melbourne Table Football Club is ranked 44th in the world
There are table football clubs in every Australian capital city
Club membership is for men and women, boys and girls of all ages
Matches consist of two 15-minute halves
The Asia Cup Open will be covered by NHK Japanese television
Australia has never won the Asia Cup
Despite its historic victory over Japan, the Australians weren’t good enough for Singapore who walked away with the Nation’s Cup.
Australian and Japanese players at Subbuteo Asian Cup
Photo: Raffaele Lombardi (R) is one of Australia’s team-members in Tokyo. (Australian Table Football (Subbuteo) Association)
The International Federation of Subbuteo Table Football (FISTF) is not as advanced, or well funded, as their cousins from FIFA so a win at the Asia Cup doesn’t provide a pathway to a world event.
“The international scene is not that developed, but obviously that’s a future plan,” Dettre said.
“All we’ll get for winning something here will be bragging rights.”