The Fast And The Foosball

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So my good friend Kyle rings me up and says there’s a café by my house hosting a foosball tournament and we should enter. I inform him that I’ve only played foosball once before and that was more than ten years ago. He says no worries, that’s cool. It’s not that serious, just a bit of fun. So I say okay, why not? Let’s play foosball.

How naïve I was.

That was almost three months ago. Here are some things I learned I’ve since:

– In Italian, foosball is called biliardino and that shit is serious.
– Some people possess wrist strength capable of transforming little plastic men into rocket launchers.
– I can really take a beating.

You see, Umberto Espresso Bar’s inaugural Campionato di Biliardino has a general standard of play that reflects its rather deep roots.

“Basically, my friends and I had a comp going every year,” says café and competition founder, Marco Finanzio. “The first one we did was back in ’98 when a mate of ours was house-sitting a place [with] a table. It was the final of the World Cup, France vs. Brazil. It was a big, big night.”

Back then teams were chosen at random out of a hat and there was a bidding process to determine who won the right to host the next competition. “Like the IOC does, with the same amount of corruption,” jokes Marco. (He laughs as he goes on to recount rumours of backroom payments, late night phone calls and dodgy deals during the new comp’s team formation process.)

Looking to compete more regularly and with more at stake, they decided to make the competition formal and open it to the public. But while there may be some pretty serious bragging rights at stake (there are even a few father-son rivalries in the ranks), at heart the Campionato remains more of an excuse to get together and have a good time than anything more serious.

The first UEB Campionato di Biliardino champion will be crowned this Monday night at Umberto Espresso Bar, and an expanded, skill-tiered championship is set to begin next month. Entry is $50, includes three nights of competition and a ton of pizza (beer available over the bar).

For more info contact Umberto Espresso Bar
822 High Street, Thornbury
9484 8654 or visit www.umberto.com.au

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