The pandemic has decimated competitive play for our sport, but things are continuing in small pockets around the world.
Three official FISTF training centres have been approved in Italy — SS Lazio, Black Rose Roma and the amazing Subbuteoland — and one in Malta (Ħ’Attard Subbuteo Club), but they are not alone.
Our friends in Singapore have created the Imagio Sports Table Football Academy, located in Viva Vista, a small shopping mall in the southwest of Singapore.
The two main principals are two local Singapore players, Michael Choong and Nic Tan.
“Our main aim is to grow a community of active sports table football players who come and play regularly, and who enjoy themselves playing the game and improve over time,” said Nic.
“When that happens, we believe that there will be natural progression in other areas like participation in competitive play like FISTF tournaments.”
He said they treat the academy as a commercial venture as well.
“We have been fortunate to get the place at a good rental rate, but we do believe that financials can play a part in motivating the correct behaviour e.g. by incentivising regular play through membership. It also acts as an incentive for the principals to find ways to be creative in attracting people and not just to treat the place as a play venue which is always the temptation,” he said.
Michael said the mall is not a popular one as it is meant largely to serve the residents who live in the condominium above the mall.
“So we cannot rely on walk-ins for business. For now, we’re relying on more online promotion and smart partnerships. For example, we were invited to participate in a vintage fair organised by Journey East, a local furniture store recently. The table we brought provided a unique and nostalgic feel to the fair for our partners, and we used the opportunity to find new players and sell equipment.”
He said the academy is not too far from one of Singapore’s local universities, which is a possible future target.
“Given the COVID situation, and where travel-loving Singaporeans are unable to go overseas, more and more people are looking for unique activities to do for themselves and their family (especially children), so we’re going to look for ways to tap on that,” Michael said.
“Naturally, just like many clubs around the world, we are open to anyone: males, females, young, old, parents and children, friends.”
Nic and Michael confirmed that this was a “private venture”.
“We do not have any affiliation or support from the national association, the Table Football Association of Singapore (“TFAS”), or any of the local clubs. That said, given the small community here in Singapore, naturally, we do have positive interactions with them,” Nic said.
“For example, people who approach the Association to buy equipment get referred to us sometimes as we do sell equipment. Similarly, if participants at our Academy are interested in competitive play, we do tell them about our national competitions (i.e. FISTF tournaments) organised by TFAS.”
Michael also supplies equipment to the Academy, both beginner sets as well as advanced equipment through his role as a distributor for Astrobase products.
“We do just about everything, finding and meeting new players, conducting lessons, maintaining our Facebook and Instagram pages. Competitively, we both play for the Subbuteo Club Dragons Hong Kong with our friends, the Carabillos, who are based in Hong Kong,” said Nic.
You can find the Academy on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Imagio.Sports.Table.Football.Academy
On Instagram at: Imagio.STF.Academy