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Working Waterfront:
Bill Xavier
Twenty-Fourth Annual World Footbag Championships
Water Transit Authority  WTA

Twenty-Fourth Annual World Footbag Championships To Be Held In San Francisco August 8 – 11
X Games redux: the Footbag championships descend on the San Francisco waterfront

You may think of it as “hacky-sack,” but the name of the sport is footbag — and the world’s most amazing practitioners will converge on San Francisco in early August for one of the most unusual and captivating athletic competitions of the year. It’s the 24th Annual World Footbag Championships Footbag comprises two primary disciplines: Net and Freestyle.

“Net Footbag?” Think volleyball. With your feet. “Martial Arts over a five-foot high net.” Athletes dig, set and hammer the footbag across the net, often hurtling their bodies through the air, head over heels, legs flying. Yet the footbag, a ball measuring just two inches in diameter, is successfully knocked from one side to the other until the hard- fought point is snatched and the battle begins again.
As the world’s great soccer legend Pelé exclaimed in astonishment upon first witnessing championship footbag play, “This is incredible! I can’t believe anyone could be so coordinated with their feet!” The World Net Footbag Championships are an exciting, adrenaline-pumping virtuoso display.

Footbagger extraordinaire Peter Irish shows his stuff

Freestyle Footbag, on the other hand, is a raw and powerful mix of dance, juggling and balance as competitors work the footbag, sometimes in carefully choreographed routines, sometimes with jazz-like improvisational authority, set to music ranging from rap to rock. The competition can be compared to figure skating or gymnastics, yet it’s more unpredictable and edgy, with a vast array of personal styles and interpretations revealed. Hundreds were turned away from last year’s sold-out World Freestyle Championships—and one exposure tells why. There’s simply no other athletic discipline on earth requiring so many disparate skills. Over the head, behind the back, bouncing on one foot while juggling the footbag with the other. At this level, one sees a rare mixture or art, grace, and technique.

From Finland, Korea, Venezuela, France, Australia, Slovenia, New Zealand, Czech Republic and Canada — to name just a few of the lands where footbag is a well-organized and keenly- appreciated sport — the world’s greatest footbag players will converge on San Francisco to compete along with the best from the United States in what will surely be one of THE athletic events of the year in Northern California.