The times they AREN'T a changing

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The times they AREN'T a changing

Post  Rob Smith on Sat May 01, 2010 5:12 pm

i found this article on a subbuteo forum, written by Steve Dettre from Australia, some years ago (pre 2005), has anything actually changed in that time?
I feel that this article could almost have been written yesterday as Steve is writing about the same issues that are being discussed today.


Okay, what's this all about?
Well, some of you may know me from my time (short as it was) as the
Communications Director of FISTF (Federations of International Sports Table
Football), which is the international federation controlling the
Subbuteo-Sports table football game.
I had to quit from the position because of work pressures - I know that's a
catch all phrase that's generally used to explain away resignations. But in
my case it was true! I was appointed Olympics Editor of the news
organisation where I work (Australian Associated Press), and had to focus
more on planning for Atlanta 96, so alas, table football commitments had to
take a back seat.
I still remain a committed fan of table football, as a player and as a
sometimes organiser. Table soccer in Australia is not dead, just taking a
bit of a breather!
However, through my interest in the Internet I have made contact with a
growing number of players around the world - not just in Europe.
And it is these players who have had lots of questions about the game - the
playing, organising and future of it.
Alas, it seems that FISTF is concentrating on Europe to the exclusion of
players in the Middle East (Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia), Asia (Singapore,
Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong), Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, New
Caledonia), South America (Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela), North
America (Panama, USA, Canada), and Africa (South Africa, Cameroon,
Mauritius). And when I say Europe, I mean of course, western Europe, because
what has happened to the players in Poland, Hungary, Rumania and Russia?
Yes, I have had correspondence from players in all of these countries,
either via snail mail or e-mail. But where were the non-Europeans at the
last world cup?
When it comes to FISTF, usually all these players receive is a letter asking
for membership fees.
I have voiced my concern about this Euro-centric attitude of FISTF to
Raymond Kroonberg, president of FISTF.
I know that not all these outlying countries have federations, nor are there
wonderful tournaments like my good friends Laurent and Veronique Garnier
organise in Sucy en Brie, France.
BUT, these are players who help make table football a world game.
And we must be mindful that there are plenty of other table games that offer
excitement to the players, such as the table ice hockey games, carrom etc etc.
And there are other TABLE FOOTBALL games that offer lots more than FISTF, or
are more aggressive in their promotion.
How many of you know, for example, that there is a Hungarian form of table
football, colloquially called 'gombfoci' (button football), which had its
own world cup last year with players from 16 countries that went for a week?
Or that they had a significant sponsor who contributed towards air fares,
who paid for accommodation in Budapest and who helped defray other costs.
This game is far less technically advanced that the Subbuteo form of table
football. Our club in Sydney, Concordia, has both Subbuteo-Sports and
Hungarian sections, and as my father is Hungarian and I have played it, I
feel I can speak from a position of authority on this. Several of the
Subbuteo players in our club entered one of the Hungarian tournaments here.
In my first ever tournament of the Hungarian game I came third, and most of
our players beat long time Hungarian game players. But the reverse could not
be said - moving from the Hungarian game to Subbuteo-Sports is far more
difficult.
And yet, the Hungarian game's international federation, is far more
interested in promoting their game in outlying countries, such as Australia,
Canada, Brazil, even the Congo!!!
And then there is the American 'foosball' game, also known as calcietto in
Italy and Europe and 'rod soccer' in Australia. It's the game of the 'crazy
spinning bars' that we, at least, find in Italian coffee bars here. Well, in
the USA it's big business, with sponsored tournaments, prize money of tens
of thousands of dollars, as well as cars (!!!) and lots of promotions. When
I met some of their officials in the USA last year, while there for the
Olympics, they proudly listed tournaments and their prize money. When they
asked me what kind of prizes were available in FISTF tournaments, I
sheepishly admitted it was "just for the glory". Not that there's anything
wrong with that. But why couldn't there be something in the tournaments for
the players, and not just the trophy makers?? Also, the foosballers are keen
to promote the game, with all sorts of tournaments to take the game to the
people.
In both cases, of course, the ease with which their games can be picked up,
is undoubtedly a great help. Okay, you may not be a world champion in
foosball in one afternoon, but at least you might score a goal or two and
hit the ball. And the same in the Hungarian game. Have a few games, score a
few goals, maybe win a match here and there.
Can the same be said for Subbuteo? While the technical possibilities of the
game are a lot higher, it takes a lot longer to get to a competent
beginner's level. How many of us have showed the game to a novice and had to
watch as the frustrated beginner can't even hit the ball, and when he/she
does, it's sent rocketing off the board?
Am I proposing changes to the game? Well, in a way I am. But more than
changes in the rules and material.
I'm proposing changes to our attitudes to it.
Lots of people threw their arms in the air in horror when the Sports figures
were introduced, then grew pale when the Toccer figures hit the pitch.
"It's unfair that a complete beginner can shoot so well with these Toccer
figures as I can with my 00-scales which took me years to master," is a
comment I have heard from a number of 'old school' players. Think about
that! It's almost like these people don't want new players to join the
ranks. Kids nowadays want instant enjoyment. Give them figures that they can
use to help them play the game. I've also heard some ridiculous comments
from players who I consider world class, that the changes brought about by
these new figures have 'destroyed' table football... that it's no longer the
game they enjoy playing. Well, things DO change. Just pull out a video of
some of the classic football matches of the past... a Real Madrid of the 50s
or Hungary, or even the matches from the 60s. The game was slower, more
genteel. There was little running off the ball, tackling was less fierce and
the pace was slower. The modern game is much faster, more precise and
athletic. But it's not just football. Look at modern fencing, at table
tennis, at track and field, handball... the list goes on.
So why should table football still be played the same way as it was in the
70s????
And as for the new equipment! All these hypocrites decrying the Sports and
Toccer figures, when they are using 00-scale figures that have been
significantly altered. They use these in tournaments, perform outrageous
flicks and shots, and then people watching them wonder why they can't
perform the same feats with their out-of-the box 00-scale teams!!!
As table football players and fans, we should be welcoming anything that can
help people enjoy our wonderful game, such as Toccer, such as Hasbro's brave
move to create a new style base for their Subbuteo figures.
The Toccer game has been exposed at a number of games and hobby fairs in
Europe, where young fans have instantly come to grips with its concepts.
In Australia, we have introduced a number of new players to Toccer, let them
spend time playing it, and then introduced them to the larger board game.
Playing Toccer they have been able to come to grips with the strength of
their flicking, of the power required for a pass or a shot (confident that
if it's too hard, the ball will come back from the rebound wall and not fly
off the board). So when they graduate to the full field game, there skills
at least have been started and they have a better feel for the game.
We need to do more of this, and we need to have direction and help from
FISTF to carry it out.
We also need FISTF to ensure that ANYONE can produce material to play our
game - as long as it meets certain criteria of dimensions, safety and
construction.
We also need FISTF to actively seek support to help fledgling federations
and groups of players to get a higher profile.
In Australia we have generated our own publicity, getting regular segments
on national television sports shows, on national radio, articles in sports
magazines, even one in Playboy!!! And yet, we still find people who say they
have been searching for a Subbuteo association for years and had never heard
about us.
What am I saying here?? Well, that you can never have too much publicity,
but the real strength in this kind of publicity comes from the top. Contact
by a well respected international federation is a lot more forceful than
from a small local club seeking publicity.
During my tenure with FISTF I made approaches to the General Association of
International Sports Federations (GAISF), to the major news agencies of the
world (AFP, Reuters, DPA, SID, Press Association) with a view to developing
FISTF's profile.
FISTF needs to continue this.
I also believe that we need to discuss in a reasonable manner, the future of
the game.
The in-fighting, the factionalism and warfare of the past needs to be forgotten.
The fact that there are two federations in some countries needs to be
resolved, and the law laid down about the repercussions of such action in
the future.
I am confident that the new FISTF hierarchy has the best interests of the
game at heart, but they must be aware that it is a WORLD federation and a
WORLD game, and that it will never be the same as it used to be and needs
nurturing as it approaches the new millennium.
There!
Now that is off my chest, I propose that future newscasts will contain
information of a more topical nature.
I hope to include dates and contacts of tournaments, even a section on the
rules, as well as 'tips and tricks' from the greats of the game, and a
section on tactics.
We'll also include news items and gossip and profiles.
I am also hoping that we will have these newscasts archived at Guillem
Alsina's 'Official Subbuteo Home Page'.
Stay tuned.
Stephen Dettre
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Re: The times they AREN'T a changing

Post  Admin on Sat May 01, 2010 6:53 pm

Yes, that's from 15 years ago and I think anyone interested in the running of FISTF should read this text!

I did it... 15 years ago!
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Re: The times they AREN'T a changing

Post  panagios on Mon May 03, 2010 8:43 am

Who is this guy?
we must bring him back in action. the first rational post I have read for ages and it was written 15 years ago. LOL

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Re: The times they AREN'T a changing

Post  Admin on Mon May 03, 2010 9:50 am

Steve Dettre is an Australian who used to be the organizer of the australian association in the late 80s and early 90s. He's a professional reporter so he has a lot of experience about communication. He was also one of the members of the very first FISTF Board but at the time, the fact he was living down under didn't really help him to be efficient in his work.
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