Competitive Clubs

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photo illustration by Zohra Kassam

A short history of the OFA

“OHHH, ARE YOU sure you wanna put the ball through there? You’re gonna get stuffed!”

“Oh yeah, well maybe your mom’s gonna get stuffed later! What do you think about that?!”

Although foosball may seem like a game requiring so little strategy and skill that even a bunch of drunken fools can play it, foosball is a highly competitive sport that takes concentration, coordination, and control to master—not to mention the ability to shut out the endless slew of chirping from your opponents.

The Ottawa Foosball Association (OFA) is the epicentre of foosball in the nation’s capital. Established in 1994, this not-for-profit group promotes the sport by organizing leagues and regular tournaments, and giving players a forum to network and develop their skills. League organizer Chris Thomas recalls the humble beginnings of the OFA.

“It started with four or five guys getting together at a bar and playing each other,” he wrote in an email to the *Fulcrum*. “They heard about a tournament in [the United States] and decided to take a road trip. They were blown away by the level of competition and the quality of the table used at the tournament.”

After convincing the tournament organizer to sell them a table, the men brought it back to Ottawa where they entered into a vending contract with Regent vending. In 2008, the OFA became independent of vending companies, buying its own tables and establishing its home base at Tail Gators on Merivale Road.

“This has turned out to be a great move for us. They are the largest pool hall in the city … and were eager for us to bring in our foosball league,” Thomas explained. “Now with a portion of the coin revenue from the tables going to the association, we are able to give back to the community with our charity work with the Boys and Girls Club and [Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario].”

Jesse Haw, avid fooser and fourth-year history and political science student, has been playing in the OFA’s foosball league since October 2010.

“What drew my attention to the OFA was their website,” he explained. “The forums are fairly active for the size of the community, and the feedback available on the site was amazing.”

The OFA offers a spring, summer, and winter league each year. The first two leagues are nine weeks long, while the winter league is more competitive, beginning in October and running for 17 weeks. The league uses a tier format, with three-person teams playing weekly matches and the season ending with a week of playoffs—an opportunity for players to win back thir $40 fee registration fee.

“The league is great—good people, laid-back, with almost all skill levels,” Haw said, noting that the tier structure allows players with varying levels of experience to participate in the league. “Chris does a really good job incorporating all skill levels into the fray. The better you play, the better you will play against, so games are almost always close.”

In addition to Wednesday night league play, the OFA also hosts a Draw Your Partner mini-tournament on Friday nights, where players are randomly matched up to duke it out. It costs $5 to enter, but it is free to play the first three times.

“Anyone that wants to get better at the game should come out to see us on a Wednesday or Friday night,” encouraged Thomas. “We are a friendly bunch—and love to show off our skills and teach new people what to do.”

As for anyone out there looking to spend their quarters on something other than laundry or beginners looking to up their skill level, Haw offers this bit of advice:

“Play the most challenging people you can find and try to find a partner that fits you … Though [the matches] can get heated, at the end of the day you have to have a great time playing—it’s all about the experience.”

—With files from Melissa Mullet