Bubble soccer and other squeaky games are big in Singapore

Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: VAKK SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: VAKK SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: BUBBLE BUMP SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: BUBBLE BUMP SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: BUBBLE BUMP SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: BUBBLE BUMP SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: BUBBLE BUMP SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: BUBBLE BUMP SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: ZOVB SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: ZOVB SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: ZOVB SINGAPORE
Participants cocooned within giant bubbles bump, shove and crash into one another during a game. -- PHOTO: ZOVB SINGAPORE

Play soccer, catching or knock opponents down while encased in a giant plastic ball

A group of men and women charge towards one another on a futsal court, battling to gain possession of a ball and kick it into the opposing team's goal area.

Sounds simple enough? Not really.

The players have to do it with their upper bodies cocooned within giant plastic bubbles or inflatable zorb balls.

Inevitably, players will bump into one another and some will end up falling to the ground and struggling to get up.

Yes, bumping, shoving and colliding are all part of the fun - and completely legal - in bubble soccer, which has caught on in Singapore, with at least four businesses offering the entertaining game.

Originating from Norway three years ago, bubble soccer quickly gained a following in other European countries as well as in Australia, North America and Asia.

There are even bubble soccer tournaments in some countries such as the United States, which may soon be a reality here too.

Bubble Soccer Singapore, which opened in August, has plans to start a Bubble Soccer League in Singapore, says a company spokesman.

Bookings have more than doubled in October, compared to just a month ago, he says.

The Wow Experience, which introduced the sport early last year, says demand has doubled, with 12 to 18 bookings a month for bubble games, says director Joshua Tay, 35.

For those who do not fancy frantically trying to kick a ball, the companies offer other bubble games based on classic childhood ones such as catching, as well as dog and bone.

There is also bubble bowling, where one person, encased in a zorb, attempts to knock down "pins", which are members of the opposing team.

These games are not just played between friends, companies and school groups are also using them for team bonding. Parents can also enjoy the game with their kids.

At Bubble Bump Singapore, the game, Bubble Bump Invasion, is the preferred choice based on customers' reviews, says its 24-year-old director Natasha Toh.

Two teams of five people defend their zones and try to attack opponents and gain control of their zone, resulting in plenty of comical collisions.

"It is exciting, requires strategic play and promotes team bonding," she adds.

Each bubble game typically lasts no longer than 10 minutes and can be played at venues such as a futsal court, the beach and vacant carpark.

The game providers suggest a location or the customers can pick their playground, provided that it is vacant and at least the size of a futsal court.

University student Jethro Wang, 23, who played bubble soccer in August, warns that it does get "hot and stuffy when inside the bubble" .

He says: "Singapore's hot and humid climate means you will tire quickly. Most of us were overcome by fatigue after 10 minutes of play."

The discomfort does not bother Ms Sim Yin Hui though. She first played bubble soccer and bubble invasion with a group of friends in June.

The 24-year-old occupational therapist says: "Getting to play rough freely, bounce around and crash into friends without risk of injuries is what's most fun about bubble games.

"We also have a great laugh watching other people play too."

gurveenk@sph.com.sg