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THE TIME BEFORE FOOTBAG

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Early natives of South-East Asia and North America have had the tradition of using various kicking objects for playing and other physical activities. These first kicking objects were often little hand-sewn bags or shuttlecock-like objects.

 

Through history there have been many different types of games with specific rules and purposes. In some cases it has been allowed to use hands and arms, but the main and most common idea in these games, was to use feet and legs to keep the object in the air. The ruins in Palenqe, Mexico show how the Maya Indians also had a game where legs, feet and a ball were the central elements. There is no doubt that footbag freestyle has its roots in these old games about mastering gravity.

Through centuries countries like Laos, Thailand and Malaysia have played a game with a bamboo ball the size of a little handball, also called a Takraw. This game is called Sepak Takraw and is most commonly played on a net court. In the 60’s this old game was developed into a modern competition-sport, and is today among the most popular sports in Thailand and Malaysia. Footbag net players have gathered much inspiration from this fantastic net game.

Read more about Sepak Trakraw here!


THE HISTORY OF FOOTBAG
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The first footbag was made in 1972 by Dr. Mike Marshall. He took the end of a sock and filled with peas. Mike Marshall tried to control it by only using his feet to kick it.

He showed his new hobby to a former American Football player, John Stallberger, whom he had met at a local festival in Oregon, USA. The two of them started playing together. They named the little bean-bag “Hacky Sack”, because that was what they said to each other when they wanted to play: “let’s hack the sack”. In the start they experimented with different sizes for the Hacky Sack and the first primitive attempts was made of worn denim filled with rice, peas or beans. In 1975 Marshall and Stallberger were ready to make their breakthrough in the American market with the Hacky Sack. Unfortunately Mike Marshall had a fatal heart attack one night when he was asleep and he died at the age of 28. Fortunately this tragic incident did not influence Stallberger’s dream of getting the Hacky Sack spread throughout USA. With renewed inspiration and motivation he managed to spread the phenomenon and thus realizing their shared dream.

A lot of other pioneers have contributed to the development of the sport through the 70’s and 80’s. You can read about them all in the “Hall of Fame” There are two Danes represented in this list, that otherwise is dominated by Americans. The first one is Torben Wigger who actually brought the first Hacky Sack to Europe in 1980. The other is Allan Hartman Petersen, four-time all-round World Champion in the years 1993-1996. At the same time Allan contributed to developing and spreading footbag as a competition sport in Europe. His footbag sewing skills were legendary and appreciated by all top players. A great deal of the most commonly used footbag designs are actually innovations of Allan.

In the 80’s a massive sales campaign in USA turned the Hacky Sack into such a major craze that the phenomenon truely caught on. The Hacky Sack became a “trademark” attached to a certain producer. Therefore the sport and the whole concept of the Hacky Sack got a new universal name: Footbag. However, there are still many that know and use the term Hacky Sack. During this period the sport evolved to have to two basic variations: Footbag Net and Footbag Freestyle.

The quality and specialization of footbags have become much greater since the time when the original primitive Hacky Sacks dominated the market. The number of disciplines, players and clubs all over the world has grown tremendously through the past 20 years and especially explosively the past 5 years. This is partially due to the easy access to information, communication and video clips that the internet provides today. The term Footbag or Hacky Sack has become a part of the modern lifestyle, and for the majority of the young people it is a trendy, funky, challenging summer game. They do not practice all year, but use it as a cool summer activity. Footbag is enjoyed in all layers of society because it is an underground sport that allows everybody to play regardless of their skill, age or culture.


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