Table football: You kick it! Insights into a scene that is crazy with bangs and bangs

This one shot has to decide, and not just about advancing, here, in the quarter-finals of the German table football championship.

Table football: You kick it! Insights into a scene that is crazy with bangs and bangs

This one shot has to decide, and not just about advancing, here, in the quarter-finals of the German table football championship. It's also about showing that she, Linh Tran, is still the best. In this world. And also here, in this place.

People gather around the table, the air vibrates. Because the improbable seems to be happening here: Tran is on the verge of defeat. Fifth set, 7:7; Tran has already fended off a match point. The next goal decides the game. Tran quickly passes the ball from the five-man line to the forward line, breathes deeply, bends down, puts the handle of the bar in the crook of her wrist as if she were holding it in a headlock, pumps back and forth, the ball sticks to the center forward's feet. Seconds pass. Then Tran pulls the bar up.

At this moment, in a small community hall in Bad Neustadt an der Saale, Franconia, in the middle of Germany, it becomes clear that a bar game has become a high-performance sport. More than 300 men and women are fighting for titles. It rumbles in the room, rolls, bangs. Bang! Bang! Bang! The hollow goal sound that sends endorphins through your body.

Table football is a niche sport and still a popular pastime: everyone knows it, from youth centers, community rooms, pubs. Probably nowhere is it as popular as here: more than 8,500 table football players have organized themselves into 13 regional associations. Germany's table football players have been world leaders for years. If you travel through the country, you meet people for whom everything has long been more than just a game.

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