by Lau Tsz Yan

Bubble soccer is the latest craze with teenagers in Hong Kong. The sport, which originated in Norway, is a recreation sports where participants wear a body-sized semitransparent bubble for protection as they continuously bump into other players.

Bubble soccer originated in Norway and is now sweeping the world. The sport is becoming popular around different corners of the world, such as, United Kingdom, America, Singapore, etc., and now in Hong Kong. While the sport may seem fun or funny (to watch), it also comes with its perils. “It can make you paralysed or even die,” said Phoebe Cheuk, a registered physiotherapist.

“The sport has potential danger and teenagers should not underrate the hidden risks,” said Professor Lau Wing Chung, Associate Professor of Department of Physical Education of Hong Kong Baptist University. Chung explained that the sport involves collision and contact between participants, which increases the risk of serious injury. In addition, the plastic exterior can give the false impression that participants can use even greater force to collide with one another.

“It is very likely to happen when most participants think the outer-bubble can protect their bodies comprehensively and use the power that exceeds normal level.”

Al believes there is a loophole with the design of the bubble. “The spacious space in the inner-bubble allows participants to move their neck and head, but concussion to the neck, however, can be caused while participants collide.” In addition, “participants can hardly see from the inside of the bubble. Poor vision and balance might cause the sprain of legs or hurt knee joints.”

Other injuries can be even more serious. Cheuk explains that bubble soccer might lead to paralysis or even death.

“Neck injury normally takes only four to six weeks to recover. However, if spinal cord and nerves get hurt, permanent damage or death might be the consequence,” she says.

“All types of sports have risks and all they can do is to take precautions.”

Cheuk emphasizes the necessity of having a medical team at the sport venue. She suggests setting up rules to stipulate the mass participants so as to prevent huge momentum in collisions. Moreover, she believes that the space between the bubble and neck can be filled with cushions and reduce the chance of neck injury.

Referring to the safety problem of bubble football, Lok, the person in charge of Bubbles Football Hong Kong, explains, “We will provide knee supports. There is a coach to give briefings to participants with safety instructions before the starting of the game,” He says. Lok confirmed that there is no medical staff on site with Bubbles Football HK at this time. Participants are required to sign a disclaimer contract. However, Lok believes that the coach can take care of the participants during the game.

With regards to the law regulations, Cheuk urges the bubble football company to undertake a study of the safety risk of bubble football since they are the one who provide the equipment.

“If there is law to regulate the role of company, public safety can be more likely to be ensured,” she says.

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