Innovation often requires taking a step back and putting the gizmos and gadgets of the modern world away in favor of some interactive fun and games. This is the spirit of Great American Human Foosball, an organization offering an alternative play space where people may take a break from electronics and get their blood flowing while allowing friends, families and co-workers to connect and have a good time.
Similar to table foosball, this large-scale version features two teams of six facing off against one another with each player holding onto handles. Working as a team, they move in unison to prevent the other team from scoring a goal.
Owner Sherri Brown explained how the company originated from an idea by her father. “I was in national sales for food packaging, and I was traveling a lot and tired of it,” Brown explains. “He is an entrepreneur and kept trying to get me to go out on my own. One day he proposed the idea, and I thought he was crazy. Within two weeks, I had left my job and we were drawing up the sketches for a prototype and building it. Two months later, we were in a facility and opened our doors.”
Brown elucidated on why they chose human foosball as the centerpiece of their business. “We hadn’t seen it being done elsewhere and, for the most part, it is such an age-free game, meaning that we have ages 8 to 80 in here. That way, a parent or grandparent can jump in and play,” she says. “The games are on a level playing field where you don’t have to have a high endurance like in soccer or basketball. It’s as hard as you want it to be. Since everyone is in a stationary location holding onto handles, no one can get run over or knocked down. Players go at their own pace.”
In addition to serving as a source of family entertainment, Great American Human Foosball also focuses on improving health through programs designed to stimulate fun in those who love sports as well those who are just looking to get their kicks.
Joined by her father, who serves as the company’s engineer and carpenter, and her spouse Clayton, who facilitates games, Brown has taken their message to the streets by building community partnerships with local scouting organizations, nonprofits, tour groups, schools and churches. This effort, underway since 2014, has resulted in a welcoming atmosphere filled with a variety of life-size games that are accessible to everyone, including kids, adults and seniors as well as the mentally and physically challenged.
Inclusivity is important to Brown. “Even though we do human foosball, that is hardly everything about what we do here,” she says. “We’ve had blind people come and play, and they could engage in activities. We’ve had hemophiliacs play, who, for the first time, could participate in group sports because our ball is soft and they are in their own space. The seniors love it because it helps them feel young again. While the foosball is what they are playing, it has almost nothing to do with what has been happening and the inclusiveness that people from all walks of life have been experiencing.”
Brown also elaborated on how she took her father’s initial concept and ran with it, developing new games and broadening the company’s audience. “Besides foosball, we have other life-size games like Tic-Tac-Toe, Connect Four, Foot Pool, Checkers, Chess and Yahtzee that people of all ages can do. This opens up our demographics because our games do not require a lot of fitness or technological knowledge to participate.”
As this creative entrepreneur explains, fitness and sore muscles are not the only takeaways from a few hours of gaming; life-size foosball players also improve other skills. “It is good for team building because the players are each on a rod and they have to communicate. Athletic ability is almost irrelevant but communication skills are imperative.”
As a local business owner, Brown offered her insight for innovators looking to set out on their own. “Sometimes, I think we believe it takes a special type of person that can make dreams come to fruition,” she says. “But really it’s the person who actually does it.
There’s no difference. You don’t have to have a certain amount of money or brains. If you want to do it and don’t have the money, you figure out a way to do it. I’ve been on a shoestring budget from day one. We didn’t take out any loans, and we utilized all of our resources, but the No. 1 thing I would say to someone is, ‘If you have an idea, just do it,’ because that is what sets people apart.”
For more information on Great American Human Foosball, call 314-882-6191 or visit greatamericanhumanfoosball.com. M