Sean Jackson tries to slam the ball as Stan Fletcher goes for a block during an exhibition of SlamBall on Saturday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Provided to China Daily
High-flying hybrid game's bosses keen for it to take root in China
SlamBall sounds like a whole lot of fun, but ... what is it?
Few people in China have even the faintest idea about the sport, but that is all about to change.
SlamBall is a form of basketball played with four trampolines in front of each basket. It made its Chinese debut over the weekend in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, and training camps and exhibitions will be staged in China over the coming months.
The sport's founder, Mason Gordon, brought four of the game's best players to China and hopes its popularity will quickly spread in the world's most populous nation.
"SlamBall began with the idea of creating a team sport using the best parts of basketball, hockey, rugby, football and gymnastics and combining them to form something new," said Gordon. "I took the best ideas from many different sports, mixed them together, and SlamBall was born. The sport is fast, exciting, incredibly athletic and appeals to the younger generations raised on video games and fast-paced sports highlight shows."
One hundred Chinese players will be selected from tryouts, internet submissions and selective recruiting and will join an August training camp in Hangzhou - where they will learn the game and train alongside some of the top SlamBall players in the world.
Some of them will get the chance to play on the sport's best teams in the exhibition games.
"Our goal is to find and establish a number of Chinese SlamBall players and a Chinese SlamBall star," Gordon said. "Only eight of the 100 recruits will make the rosters of four existing SlamBall professional teams, so those who make it onto teams will truly be the best of the best. At the conclusion of the training camp, the Mob, Rumble, Maulers and the defending champion Slashers will play a four-day tournament in the 8,000-seat arena in Hangzhou."
After the exhibition tournaments in China, Gordon, together with its partner Michael Sun, CEO and president of SlamBall China, will establish three SlamBall facilities which will be open to the public before the end of the year.They will feature specific training methods and be run by leading SlamBall experts.
"In these facilities, fans and prospective players alike will train, learn and play the sport at the highest possible level in a safe, fun and exciting sporting environment. By the end of next year, we expect to see club teams springing out of these facilities. Within a short period of time, we expect to see Chinese SlamBall players participating in our major international events."
To further its influence and presence in the world, the Multinational SlamBall Athletic Association has been formed with a mandate to establish and further global standards for the sport.
It aims to have a SlamBall World Cup and ultimately bid for inclusion at the Olympics. The first significant step is to open up the Chinese market.
SlamBall has formed a partnership with Qian Jiang Evening News and they have devised a series of public activities to promote the sport.
"China is the world's largest sports market. It is growing in power and global prominence with each passing day. We are extremely confident that we will establish grassroots, infrastructure and mass participation in the sport very rapidly. China will be an enduring, dominant SlamBall power as the sport continues to grow rapidly around the world," said Gordon.
Stan Fletcher, one of the game's top players, had the chance to meet Chinese fans during his visit and believes there is plenty of talent to be found here.
"China is a major power in gymnastics, and body control is the single greatest talent that separates the great SlamBall players," Fletcher said.
"We believe that there are a high number of strong, fast, athletic and powerful athletes throughout China that possess exactly the kind of body control that we look for in the best SlamBall players."
(China Daily 06/18/2012 page23)