Here’s an article from two time World Freestyle Footbag Champion Jan ‘Honza’ Weber from 2011. Weber gives his thoughts about the state of footbag currently. We are told a follow up article is in the works for which we will be happy to promote as well!
The Future of Footbag Freestyle
By Honza Weber
Recently I watched couple sideline videos from various years World championships and in the background I was hearing all the names of great players from the past being read in their pools and it forced me to think about the past of the sport and of course its future. Let`s be honest because there is not many of us left here in freestyle. That is also why I mentioned the word “freestyle” in the title of this article. I have to diversify between freestyle and net because, let`s be honest again, these sports do not have much in common except all the freestylers switching to net when they grow up, which leads us to the first downfall of freestyle, the age. When you are young enough, it is very easy to be obsessed with freestyle because you can improve quite fast, but when you get older, not only that it is hard to keep up with the young players, you also fight with the flexibility of your body and the fun can be gone with the same speed it appeared.
The other reason for footbag freestyle breakdown is other freestyle category, freestyle football. This very young sport, which gained attention of thousands of people around the World (including our fellow bloke Vasek) in the beginning of the new millenium, managed to overgrow footbag in a small fragment of time that footbag had existed. When I first entered the freestyle football community, the players kept talking about “freestyle”, not “freestyle football”, just “freestyle”, which I could not understand. I was asking myself “Are they really that cocky to think they can overcome the meaning of the word and implement it only to their sport? What about freestyle… jet ski , bmx and so on?” When I did realise how widespread has the sport and the community become in such a short time, I start to understand.
Not only has freestyle football gained players, but also media attention because people can simply see what is going on, which is sometimes very hard with footbag. Visibility of footbag has always been a problem. Even though the media wanted to make some reports on footbag, it was just impossible with the small footbags the players are allowed to use. There is a solution now though, football and all the freestylers who can handle it.
The current freestyle footbag community has one big problem and that is the lack of new players. Great amount of older players has quit the sport, but there is nobody to compensate the losses. The 12th annual Todexon tournament just happened here in Prague last week and there was 7 registered players for the event. Yes, 7 players, that is ridiculous! I remember in 2003, there were over 80! We had to have 3 rounds and we had to start with the routines at 10AM to be able to make the finals on time at 8PM. That was incredible! Milan told me how angry he was when he saw just those 7 registered players and I understood. He worked really hard for many years to become the top player and now he has no competition and it seems as a waste of time for him and wanting him to quit the sport as well as all the others before him.
Steve Goldberg also visited Prague last week for 13th time in his life and I still remember what he told me during Todexon, “There is no passion for the sport anymore” and I again had to agree. It seems just like a duty for the players to come to tournaments and compete. To compete is also harder than ever before, freestyle has reached an incredible difficulty level and there is basically no bad or intermediate player competing these days and therefore it is very easy to finish lets say 10th out of 10 competitors.
“It looks to me like our history, running on repeat, over and over” are words from the latest song of my favorite music band “Looptroop Rockers”, but these words have also the same meaning as a story about history of frisbee freestyle Dexter told me some time ago. The sport almost died during the 90s, but the community managed to survive and is even evolving these days. I think footbag is also really close to “extinction” these days and it is really just up to us to save it because nobody else will or can help. One way could be to force the players to compete with big bright visible bags and make the sport more suitable for media, which could afterwards attract sponsors and bring some money and more people. I know it is probably not the best compromising solution, but in my opinion it is worth trying. I still remember when I saw Jorden using such bags for his routine and I thought he was crazy, but now it seems like a good idea. I just hope people like Queency, Steve, Red, Daryl and Dale will not give up that easily and together we manage to ensure there will still be any footbag freestyle players and tournaments when our kids ask us “What is this?” and they will be holding a beautiful 32 panel bag in their hands.
Here’s a great video of Honza’s work to check out;