Calgary Subbuteo club hoping to attract new members

subbuteo2resizedOnce a month, a group of gamers gather in a residential garage in the southeast neighbourhood of Dover to play Subbuteo.

Subbuteo is a form of tabletop soccer with origins dating back to the Second World War, when players would draw a soccer field onto a blanket and flick buttons at a ball in an attempt to score a goal. The game has evolved, with enthusiasts arriving with 5 cm miniature players, soccer balls and nets in hand. The game is popular in Europe, but slowly gaining traction in North America.

subbuteo2Shane Hoopfer (left) prepares his offensive attack on Logan Stevenson (right) who attempts to defend the oncoming shot on net.

Photo by Riad Kadri
As the monthly tournament begins, 38-year-old Shane Hoopfer lines up his three small soccer fields on tables in his garage.

"I was looking for something to do at the time my son, who was 1-year-old and I was thinking down the road I don't want it to be all video games," Hoopfer said.

Hoopfer said he stumbled across Subbuteo while searching for other games to play with his son, but once he tried it, he fell in love with the game.

His new love for the game drove him to revive the local Subbeteo scene.

"The Canadian Subbuteo Table Football Association kind of died off six years ago. To me that was just a frustration — why don't we have this set up?" Hoopfer said.

"So I worked with a few other guys in this country that still play and we worked together to try and rebuild the Canadian association."

Hoopfer now heads the Calgary Subbuteo Club. Membership sits at nine players, with four to five players attending most events.

Ben Herrel is the club's newest member.

Herrel said, "I think there's a good sense of belonging. I'm new, but I'm already getting into it.

"It creates a community there and it's a nice, comfortable thing."