Every italian kid grows up next to a foosball table!
I grow up playing foosball (Italians use to call it “Biliardino”) with my friends at the bar next to my house. I used to jealously save the 200 Lire coins needed to play then wait and hope that my grandpa would take my cousin and I to the bar where my friends were waiting for me.
The coveted prize for the winning team was always the same, an amazing gelato… my favorite flavor was hazelnut! Well, it’s been a long time since I last played the game, but when I see a foosball table I can still smell the wood, smoke and sweat of the bar and hear the voices of old men fighting over a card game gone wrong!
If you ask to an Italian he will surely tell you that Calcio Balilla is an Italian game. Actually, while there is a lot of disagreement on its history, generally it is agreed that it was born in Germany in the 20s and then made popular by a veteran of the Spanish Civil War, Alexandre de Fisterra.
In Germany foosball was born in bars and clubs where soccer fans gathered to celebrate the victories of their local teams. In Spain, Fisterra thought it was the perfect game for children injured in the war who could no longer run around the football field.
In 1949 the French company Zosso started exporting foosball under the name sportfoot to Italy. Eventually the responsibility for production went to the Garlando family who made foosball tables they called Calcio Balilla. Of the 12,000 tables Garlando built from 1951 to 1954 half were rented out and the other half were sold.
Unfortunately, in 1954 foosball had a temporary setback. It was banned by the police of Rome, but it was reintroduced a year later. From that moment on, the love between Italians and Calcio balilla was unstoppable!
The passion is still burning
Recently designers have been reinventing this classic game, transforming it into a piece of art perfect for even the edgiest house!
Here we are in the 2012, the age of video games and smartphones, and you can still find kids and adults playing foosball in the bar for a gelato!