Sports table football: Singapore win third consecutive Asian Cup

Japan's Kenzo Koi (in blue) and Singapore's John Ho (in red) battling it out at the Asian Cup in sports table football in Tokyo on June 10, 2017.
Japan's Kenzo Koi (in blue) and Singapore's John Ho (in red) battling it out at the Asian Cup in sports table football in Tokyo on June 10, 2017. PHOTO: TABLE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE
Singapore's  sports table football team members: (from left)  Mr Ashley Tan, 48, Mr Vikas Chandiramani, 48, Mr Bernard Lim, 45, Mr Tan Kok Wee, 45, Mr John Ho, 45, and Mr John William Edwards, 56. Also pictured are Mr Chandiramani and Mr Tan's sons.
Singapore's sports table football team members: (from left) Mr Ashley Tan, 48, Mr Vikas Chandiramani, 48, Mr Bernard Lim, 45, Mr Tan Kok Wee, 45, Mr John Ho, 45, and Mr John William Edwards, 56. Also pictured are Mr Chandiramani and Mr Tan's sons. PHOTO: TABLE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION OF SINGAPORE

Singapore clinched the Asian Cup in sports table football for the third year running on June 11.

A two-day tournament in Tokyo saw a team from Singapore defeat Australia 2-1, and Japan 4-0, in the Nations event to win the title.

Singapore had previously won the Cup in 2015 when it was hosted in Melbourne, and last year, when it hosted the event.

This year's team consisted of players Bernard Lim, Tan Kok Wee, John Ho, Vikas Chandiramani, Ashley Tan and John William Edwards.

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During a team match, each team will have one player serving as a substitute while the other four players play one-on-one matches at four separate tables. One round is made up of two 15-minute halves.

In addition to the Nations title, Singapore's Tan also won the title of Asian Cup Champion in the individual Open category, defeating high-ranking players from France, Italy and Wales before finishing with a 2-1 win over Australia's Raffaele Lombardi.

Also known as "subbuteo", sports table football resembles a conventional game of football in many respects, such as its rules, except that it is played on a table with plastic figures flicked to the ball using the index finger.

The game first became popular in Singapore in the 1980s. However, interest declined in the early 90s when the game producer Hasbro ceased to manufacture new sets.

Nevertheless, a competitive playing community continued to thrive, with the establishment of the Table Football Association of Singapore (TFAS) in 2009.

There are currently two established table football clubs in Singapore - SG Lions TFC, which plays at the Sports Hub Library on alternate Sundays and every Thursday evening at the Kebun Baru Heights Residents Committee Centre, and the Jurong Central Subbuteo Club, which meets every Friday evening at the Jurong Central Zone D Residents' Committee Centre.

In addition to running a national league, TFAS organises three nation-wide competitions every year, open to players across the region.

The best players in Singapore compete regularly at regional competitions, while several players have participated in the Federation of International Sports Table Football (FISTF) world championship.

To date, about 40 national sports table football federations have registered with FISTF. There are approximately 5,000 registered players worldwide.