Bubble soccer is Liberty Lake’s newest, strangest sport

 The Spokesman-Review

Colin Mulvany photo

On the Web: Watch a video of bubble soccer at: www.spokesman.com/video

What else is left in the world of wacky sports than to turn people into rolling, bouncing balls? And so they took turns doing just that Sunday at the HUB Sports Center in Liberty Lake.

Kids and adults pulled the large, inflatable bubbles over their upper torsos – think Violet Beauregarde on her way to Willy Wonka’s juicing room – and commenced to ricochet off one another like balls in a giant game of billiards.

Except they were playing soccer.

Well, the people weren’t the soccer balls. They were the walking bubbles kicking soccer balls around two indoor gyms. And also bouncing and rolling around a lot.

OK, just look at the photos with this story and the video we have online. Got it now?

Let’s ask Gavin Shields what this “bubble ball” is all about.

“It’s like a roller coaster, sort of,” said the 10-year-old from Nine Mile Falls.

Ah, roller coaster. Check.

“Well, it’s like doing a front flip off a diving board,” Shields added.

Wait, what?

Spokane resident Madison Stout, 12, said it’s a little like being in a sauna.

“It’s tiring. The ball is very heavy,” Stout said. “I got really hot.”

We tried to ask another kid, but he was stuck on his head, trapped like an upturned tortoise.

So over to the adult court for another perspective.

“It’s one of the best workouts I’ve ever done,” said Luke Clift, 24, of Spokane. “It’s insane.”

On a break from a 10-minute session, Clift was wet with sweat and gulping down water.

“It’s ton of fun,” he said. “Less soccer and more bumper cars.”

Once inside a bubble, only the lower legs and feet are exposed. After some practice, participants begin to attempt somersaults, sideway flips and backward rolls, cushioned inside their plastic cocoons.

Cassandra Atwood, the office manager at the HUB, saw a YouTube video of the sport about six months ago. “I thought, we’ve got to do this,” she said.

The HUB and Barefoot Soccer together bought 20 balls in four different sizes, and broke them in at the Barefoot 3v3 Soccer tournament in Liberty Lake in early August.

About 50 people signed up to test out the bubble Sunday inside the HUB.

“When you first put it on you’re kind of unsure what to think,” Atwood said. “But then when you start running into everybody, you realize it doesn’t hurt and the harder that you hit people, the more you can roll.”

She agreed bubble ball is great exercise, combining running, weightlifting – the plastic bubbles can weigh more than 10 pounds – and sweating in a confined space.

“You’re on it for 10 minutes and it feels like you’ve been working out for hours,” Atwood said. “It wears you out a little faster.”

The HUB’s long-term goal is to organize bubble soccer leagues and tournaments. So expect to see more of this bouncy-bumpy-rolling-workout-sauna-soccer ball.

Article Link: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/sep/29/bubble-soccer-is-liberty-lakes-newest-strangest/