Photos by Joey Senft
On their website, they describe bubble soccer as a cross between soccer and bumper cars inside inflatable plastic bubbles.
Other than wearing a 10-pound giant zorb ball, most of the same rules from regular soccer apply – except with bubble soccer, there are no goalies; throw-ins from the sidelines become kick-ins; and the game starts in a more exciting way.
“Each team lines up on the goal line and when the whistle blows, they charge for the ball. Usually, there’s a big collision,” Greg McKnight says.
The McKnights got the idea to bring bubble soccer to Winnipeg after seeing the sport online.
Bubble soccer has been around for a few years, but has recently gained popularity in North America. In the short time since bubble soccer appeared, it’s made its way into major cities.
“When I looked last year, the closest place I found was Calgary. Now it’s in Saskatchewan, there’s a few in Winnipeg and one in Brandon,” Greg says.
Harris Burden, a student at Red River College, was excited to try bubble soccer in Winnipeg.
“I had seen the videos on YouTube, so I needed to try it as soon as I found out we had it in the city,” Burden says. “I play rugby and I used to play soccer, so I feel like this sport is perfect for a guy like me.”
Making bubble soccer accessible to potential players is important in growing its popularity.
“We deliver them (zorb balls) wherever they want,” Greg says. “Over the summer and fall, we’ve been playing a lot in school yards, public parks and backyards.”
New players, like Nolan Bicknell, appreciate how easy the sport is to try out.
“We just showed up, played and left. They delivered the bubbles, picked them up after, deflated them and cleaned them,” Bicknell says.
Right now there’s one bubble soccer league in Winnipeg, through River City Bubble Ball. Next year, the McKnight brothers hope to start a second league.
And for all first-time bubble soccer players, Greg McKnight offers some advice.
“Go all out and have some fun,” he says.