Touch football is a fast growing sport in Asia. It’s played in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Korea and Japan amongst many other countries in the region. Some of the countries are quite established as the touch football governing bodies have introduced touch footy into school level, in other countries it is still a fledgling sport with the potential to grow. Overall the future looks bright in Asia for the sport to become more established.
There is still a lot of development that needs to go on in Asia though as there is a lot of ground to make up on Australia and New Zealand – the two countries that have dominance in the sport since its inception in the ‘60s. These two countries have a strong player base (both countries have over 500,000 registered players respectively), well organized domestic competitions and as a result have consistently achieved top two finishes in all World Cup competitions since the touch football World Cup began in 1988.
All over the world the sport is growing due to its ease of learning. As a result it is popular both as a social and competitive game; mixed-gender and women-only games have strong participation levels.
The region I hear that is making a lot of headway in the sport over the last few years is Europe. One of the main reasons that has brought the game along in the region has been constant competition at domestic level as well as regular competitions at the international level. The main event is the European Touch Championships, which brings all the top European nations together on a biannual basis. Since the championships inception in 1996, England has been very strong winning the European Championship Trophy five out of seven occasions (Wales won the other two). If you are interested in knowing more about the European Championship, click here.
In Asia, the consistent competition hasn’t quite been there. Naturally domestic competitions need to be developed, and it is happening in certain regions. In Japan, there are only about 10 tournaments a year that a competitive team can enter in, but there needs to be more – especially seeing that NZ and Australian teams are playing games 3 times a week! Still, things look to be changing here as the competitive schedule looks to have increased for 2011. Also, Singapore for example has introduced a touch footy program at school level and Hong Kong has a good development program for local players, which would suggest increased competition.
The notion of hosting an international competition in Asia is a very exciting prospect, but it does have a few hurdles that it must get though. The first thing that would pop into my mind is the logistics of getting to the location. This is an advantage that Europe has over Asia – they can drive where countries in Asia would have to fly. Still, I’m sure that if the players want the right to be named the best international team in Asia, they will make the effort to attend the event!