Photo by Anna Meassick |CIGAR| Students play soccer with a twist–they must remain upright in inflatable bubbles.

The University of Rhode Island’s Campus Recreation brought a free bubble soccer tournament to adventurous students on April 7 on the North Fields.

The premise of bubble soccer is much like it sounds. Teams compete against each other in a game of soccer, only they are encased in a giant inflatable ball.

The event attracted intramural soccer players, members of Greek organizations, as well as international students from around campus. Sean Butler, the coordinator of Intramural Sports, and Campus Recreation rented the event’s soccer bubbles from the Mass Sports League for $660. Twelve teams of five competed in a single elimination tournament in quick five minute games. Butler said the game time was shorter than usual, so that all the participants would have a chance to use the bubbles during the two-hour event.

Butler said Campus Recreation is interested in potentially buying soccer bubbles next year to run an intramural bubble soccer league alongside the other leagues like flag-football and softball. “This isn’t in the mainstream… so this [event] is a trial run for us,” Butler said.

URI student, and event participant, Samuel Hobe said that he looked forward to having fun and bouncing around in the bubbles. “I actually have played bubble soccer before, I was introduced to it in New Zealand when I was studying abroad,” Hobe said. “I am just here to have fun, and to bounce around in the big balls…I don’t really have a competitive nature.”

Most of the other event’s participants like student Jaimie Sinclair said that they had never played bubble soccer before.

“I’m expecting not being able to run because I am laughing so hard, and that it will be really fun,” Sinclair said.

The teams that advanced further into the tournament quickly understood that the best strategy of bubble soccer was to have no strategy at all. The best teams focused on just knocking over the other players, and relied on the tiebreaker to win games. When most of the games ended in a draw, most of which were scoreless, the game managers settled the game in a bubble soccer joust. One player from each team ran from opposite sides of the field and tried win the game by pummeling the other player. The tie breaking joust went to the team of the last standing player.

After Rashil Shah’s team, the Monstars, lost, Shah described how difficult playing under the bubbles proved to be for his team.

“It’s really hard, you can fall easily under the bubbles,” Shah said.

The event was well received by the participants, even those who were eliminated in the first rounds stayed until the end of the event to watch the semi-final and championship matches. Long after the event was over, some participants stayed to play a game of pickup-soccer on the North Fields, and continued to enjoy the nice weather and the good spirit of the event.

“We have been stuck inside all winter…this event takes advantage of the good weather,” Butler said.