Have you ever been stuck with a friend or two, sitting at a table, bored out of your mind? Maybe waiting for your next class to start, or in a club, waiting for the next band to hit the stage. Conversation's dried up, the minutes are dragging. What you need is a game of table football, the most portable game in the world!

The best thing about table football, is that all you need to play is two people, one average sized table, and a coin.

The Equipment:

  • One table - the shape doesn't really matter, about the only requirements are that it's not too narrow (80 or 90cm is probably about the narrowest preferred table), or excessively wide (you need to be able to lean from your side of the table, and reach the edge of the other side).

  • One coin - your coin should be of a reasonable size, and have some weight to it. An Australian twenty-cent coin, which is about 4cm in diameter, is perfect. Coin size will affect the degree of difficulty - lager coins make the game easier, smaller harder. If you're turning into a table football master, and want to use a smaller coin to increase the difficulty, try to choose one that still has a reasonable amount of weight.

  • Yourself, and an opponent.

The Rules:

Table football is super simple to play, but not easy to be good at. The rules are fairly basic.

  • Kickoff - The coin starts on your side of the table, slightly hanging over the edge. To start, you strike the edge of the coin with your hand, so that it slides along the table.
  • General Play - after the kickoff, you get another two movements of the coin. You move it by flicking it in some manner, so that it continues to slide along the table. Rules are flexible regarding the technique used, however you're not allowed to push the coin at all - all the movement has to come from a single impact, not a continued pushing.
  • Scoring a try - scoring a try is a two step process. Firstly, you need to control the coin, so that it ends on the opponent's edge of the table, but slightly overhanging. Once you've achieved this, you need to complete the try. Reach over the table (this is why it can't be too wide), and from underneath the overhanging edge of the coin, flick it into the air. If you are able to catch the coin on the full, you've scored a try! Step two is an effective way to solve disputes over whether a coin is truly over the edge of the table - if it is, you'll be able to flick it. If it's not, the table edge will prevent you.
  • Converting a try - After scoring, you have the chance to convert, for extra points. Again, it's a two step process. To begin with, your opponent must create the goal posts. They need to make two 'L' shapes, with their thumbs and first fingers (think the symbol for loser). Get them to place their thumbs together, so that they've formed a sort of 'U' shape, a little way above the table, and near their edge. Now the scorer spins the coin on the table, and must stop it between their two thumbs. Then, without letting the coin go, or using any other fingers to change how you've got it gripped, flick it into the air so that it passes between the crossbar. See, simple, isn't it!
  • Points awarded - A try is worth four points, and the conversion another two points.

You'll find that most of the time, nobody scores - the coin either fails to reach the edge, or falls over it. When this happens, the opponent gets the coin, and kicks off. In this way, play passes between the two players, until somebody does score. This is one of those games that's prone to local rules, so don't take these as gospel! Any rule can be modified to suit yourself. For example, if you're stuck playing on a narrow table, you can cut down the play to a kickoff, then one extra movement.

So the next time you're bored out of your mind with friends, give a game of table football a go. Believe me - it's addictive. And when you're screaming and laughing after scoring a remarkable try from the kickoff, then landing the impossible conversion, just remember that everyone giving you a funny look is really just jealous of the fun you're having - and looking for coins in their pockets!