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If you can’t play football, try this game – it will be fun

Can’t play football? Do not worry; there is a substitute in table football that is an imitation of the beautiful game. Never mind that there are no hard tackles nor sweat to break.

The game, also known as foosball, involves opponents standing on either side of a table fitted with miniature footballers, goals and a ball.

The name foosball was derived from the German word for football, a sport better known as soccer in the US. In table football, competing players aim to outscore their opponents within a given time.

Previously, there were similar games to table football, but the version we know today was invented by Harold Thornton in 1921 and patented in 1923.

The staunch supporter of English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur conceived the idea after watching a match involving the team.

Thornton’s was keen to start a game that replicated football, which could be played at home and his inspiration came from a box of matches.

In Kenya, table football has a growing fan base. The second Heineken Table Football tournament is set for later this month for lovers of the game across Kenya where winners stand to win prizes.

The official sponsors of the Union of European Football Associations (Uefa) Champions League, Heineken, hopes to attract more fans to the sport in East Africa.

Teams of two people each will represent particular clubs in the national finals set for April 30.

The winning team would be flown to the Spanish island of Ibiza in mediterranea to watch the Uefa Champions League final that would be screened live. The Uefa Cup final will be held in Lisbon, Portugal on May 24.

This year’s table football tournament will be held at various premium nightlife spots across Kenya, with teams set to win Uefa Champions League merchandise.

Some of the spots where the tournament will be held include Taidys and Black Diamond in Nairobi, Sheba and Kahamas in Mombasa, Hush Club in Kakamega, Taidys in Nakuru, Dallas Inn in Kisii and Samba Marina in Kisumu.

Last year, Pierre Kinyua and Jack Mwaura triumphed in the first championship that attracted 256 teams from Mombasa, Mt Kenya, Rift Valley, Western and Nairobi regions. The  competition wil ran for six weeks.

Heineken East Africa general manager Koen Morshuis said the firm is out to improve its relations with fans in region.

“We aim to create exciting Uefa Champions League experiences for our consumers by engaging them in a way only Heineken can do. The tournament would be an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and talent,” said Morshuis during the launch.

He said last year’s competition was a success and hoped the coming one would pull in more people and particularly women because their numbers were not impressive during the first tournament.

The defending champions Kinyua and Mwaura have confirmed participation and warned opponents of stiff competition.

“We have high hopes after winning the first championship. We hope to build on the momentum and capture another title. We know it is not going to be easy but we shall be at our best,” said Mwaura.

The two were given a bye to the first round by virtue of being champions and will start competing in the second round.

Mwaura said the game provided a chance to enjoy themselves for those willing to play football but cannot do so because of lack of skills.

The two players have intensified their training, and remain optimistic of making another trip to Ibiza this year.

Journalists are also being encouraged to compete. During the launch of the second tourney, a total of 16 teams made up of sports journalists from different media houses took part.

Fred Maingi and Alex Isaboke won the Media Challenge after defeating the Team Masters’ pair of Steve Steifmaster Ayoo and Amos Abuga 10-5 in the final.