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Blog / / More than a game
06/03/2023
More than a game
Borislav Dakić Legal Affairs Manager of Hemofarm AD Vršac and representative of Serbia in table football
More than a game
I played table football back in my high school days. In the 1990s, every coffee shop that lived up to its reputation had a table, usually an Italian Fabi with blue and red players, often decapitated. It was important that the handles were lubricated. I liked the dynamism of the game, the sound of the tin that triumphantly announces a goal, the outwitting of the opponent, and the fact that I was terrible at pool, which usually shared space with table football, increased the inclination.

A litter over 20 years later, as my knees failed to obey and ended a not-so-successful football career, I found myself looking for a new hobby. I ruled out table tennis quickly for the same reason as football, and board games provided only partial appeal. Sony PlayStation and similar ‘button’ games could not be a choice for someone who grew up in Yugoslavia. Until one day Mrs. Dakić mentioned in passing that the local motorcycle club has good music and a team, and they also have table football. I went the following Friday, my eyes glued to good old Fabi. I told the owner that I don't know how to drive a motorcycle, I don't drink beer, but I would be happy to turn the handles. The next couple of hours disappeared somewhere, time was measured by tokens. When I got home, I gave my wife credit for discovering this place, the music was really good, but that wasn't the reason why I went tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow. It was clear - I was bewitched. I soon got my best man involved, we became regular guests, and the first club tournament was won.

Sometime later I moved to another cafe with not so good music, but the game was much better. Here, table tennis was more than fun, it was approached seriously, and the new team told me about the tournaments that are organized all over Serbia, the best players in the country, including the ones from Vršac , how and how much training is done... OK, we switched to a new level, so soon, to Mrs. Dakić's dismay, the living room as soon ’decorated’ with a new table just imported from Italy.

I also started going to tournaments in Serbia, still playing on Fabi tables, which, similar to the Alan Ford comic, were very popular in Italy and in the areas of the former SFRY republics, but were not recognized by the World Table Football Federation (ITSF), and some players pejoratively called them ’fairlike’. Of course, I knew about professional tables, watched a lot of clips of the world's best players, but only when I stood at one of them and grabbed the handles, did I realize how big the change was. Everything was different - the dimensions of the table, the size of the goal, the ball, the surface, the feet of the players, the technique of shooting, passing…I guess that's how tennis players feel when they change surfaces, but here the change would include racket, ball and something else. It was clear that more and more people were switching to pro tables, which is understandable considering that international tournaments and championships are played exclusively on these tables, and this practically meant that the knowledge gained so far was quite useless. I decided to give it a try. The time has come to say goodbye to the Fabi table and buy a professional table. Soon, a green and black table from the German manufacturer Leonhart arrived, this time placed in my study so that other members of the Dakić family could take a break from the sound I love. The corona came around that time, and the quarantine days seemed less gloomy with a new toy.

The relaxation of measures was followed by tournaments in Belgrade, Sombor, Bečej, Prigrevica... and of course also in Vršac. Since last year, I've started going to international tournaments where tens and hundreds of players from all over the world play, including the best ones. Along with the game, I met a lot of good people, who are part of the same microcosm and some of whom have become my close friends.

Table football is recognized as a sport in most countries. In Serbia, it is not, although there is a Federation of Table Football of Serbia and several clubs, admittedly for the time being mostly informal. Things are slowly moving forward, in cooperation with our people who live abroad, table tennis is becoming increasingly popular, tournaments are being organized, and our players are recording better and better results at international competitions. However, there is no big money and no publicity in table football, only a few of the best in the world can make a living from it. Table football is played for love.

For many people playing table football sounds obscure, they know it as a bar game, easy fun with beer. It is inconceivable to them that someone would spend serious time and money on such a trivial matter. There are moments when I think about what benefits playing this sport really brings me, where it is on my list of priorities, where it should be and, all in all, when I will grow up. I refuse for now and hope to be able to enjoy the game and keep my spirit young for a long time to come. The time I spend playing, whether I'm training alone or playing with friends, I perceive as time dedicated to myself, a kind of meditation, complete focus on the game and ’happenings on the field’ untainted by the worries of the ’serious’ world. Every ’irrationally’ spent moment at the table and every dinar devoted to the table represents an investment in a source of pure happiness.

Sometimes I ask myself what it is that I want to achieve, whether it is new victories, cups and medals, the ability to compete at the highest level, participate in the World Cup and the Champions League (yes, they exist in table football). I would be dishonest if I said that it is not so, but above all I want to play in a big tournament without pressure, without a burden of the concept of results, victory and defeat, to surrender to the joy of the game and let my hands dance by themselves.
AUTHOR
Borislav Dakić
Legal Affairs Manager of Hemofarm AD Vršac and representative of Serbia in table football