August 21, 2019 / 3:55 PM / 2 months ago

Nine teams vie for football on roller skates World Cup in Belgium

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Rollersoccer World Cup kicked off in Brussels on Monday as nine teams from the United States and Europe compete for the honors during the five-day biennial event.

RollerSoccer - Club World Cup - Brussels, Belgium - August 20, 2019. Beliers' player in action with Shinobis Riders' player. Picture taken August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Rollersoccer is in essence football on roller skates where players of all ages and both sexes can join up to form a team.

The sport originated in England in 1882 and took off in San Francisco in 1995 when Rollersoccer founder Zack Phillips saw a soccer ball heading his way while he was skating around.

“I was just skating down the street, and a soccer ball rolled down the street and I instinctively kicked it,” said Phillips, who was in Brussels for the 14th edition of the World Cup.

“It was just a light bulb in my head. Oh, this could be a sport,” he said.

Teams were initially small but then gradually expanded as more and more people showed interest.

“First, it was two on two. Then three on three. Then five on five. And then 12 on 12, and we were just playing like crazy. We were really like a bunch of little kids,” said Phillips, who had a soccer ball tattooed on his shaved head to promote the game.

“My wife and I don’t have any children, and I do feel like rollersoccer is my child,” he said. “It’s amazing to see people grow up and change, because I remember these guys who play today since they were little.”

A Marseille team won the 2017 World Cup.

The game is open even to those with physical disabilities, said rollersoccer player Mathias Bonal.

“We have different activities to engage different people, even those on wheelchair, we push the wheelchair and play with them,” he said.

Reporting by Alexandra Regida; editing by Foo Yun Chee

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