Footbag Reference: IFPA Newsletter - December, 2006

Footbag Reference

IFPA Newsletter - December, 2006

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Welcome to the IFPA Newsletter for December, 2006. This is the first edition of what we hope will be a regular way for IFPA board members to inform our membership of interesting happenings in the sport. If you would like to see a topic covered, please be sure to contact one of the directors (see the IFPA home page for more details).


Julie Symons, Executive Director
 IFPA Update, New Membership Structure, IFPA Sanctioning Update

John Leys, Rules Director
 Rules Committee Update

Steve Goldberg, Volunteer

Eric Chang, Volunteer
 Compilation, Editing, Interview

Special Thanks To: Jeremy O'Wheel

IFPA Update

A Note from Julie Symons, Executive Director.

Hi, everyone. Thanks for reading. I want to give you a few updates about some recent goings-on at IFPA.

I'm pleased to announce that we have a new Membership Director as of this month, Benjamin Benulis. (The Membership Director position is an appointed position, as opposed to some of the other directorships which are elected.)

The IFPA membership also recently re-elected Amy Westberg as Treasurer and Chris Ott as Marketing Director. (The Treasurer and Marketing Director positions are elected positions with 3 year terms.)

We are also looking for a Communications Editor (appointed position). If you are interested, please email me (see my member profile for contact information).

The 2007 IFPA World Footbag Championships is happening this year at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, near Orlando, Florida, USA, the week of August 11, 2007. Chris Ott is heading up this effort. For more information, go to

The IFPA Worlds Organizing Committee is currently accepting bids for Worlds 2008. The bid deadline in March 31, 2007. The application can be found at

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank some of the many volunteers that keep IFPA alive:

First off, I'd like to thank Steve Goldberg. Steve is our #1 volunteer. He volunteers tons of time and money to IFPA and; he even got Google to donate thousands of dollars in 2006. Steve is also an invaluable consultant to the IFPA Board of Directors.

Next, I'd like to thank Tina Lewis. She is my right-hand man, and I wouldn't be able to do it without her.

Chris Ott is tireless in his efforts to promote the sport. He spends tons of time and his own money networking at sporting event conventions, getting banners made and shipping them around the world. Thanks, Chris.

I'd like to thank the other board members:

I'd like also thanks the members of the Worlds Organizing Committee and the Rules Committee (IFC).

Thanks to Chris Siebert, Matti Pohjola, and Grischa Tellenbach, who help with the IFPA ranking. Jeremy O'Wheel has been helping with sanctioning.

I'd like to thank Eric Chang, a student volunteer, who helped with IFPA memberships from sanctioned events -- and who got this newsletter together.

I'd like to thank Ali Dastrandj, Allan Haggett, Eric Cote, and all of the many others helping IFPA's cause. If I haven't listed you here and you've been helping out, thank you, too. Email me and let me know what you've been doing for IFPA.

Julie Symons, Executive Director, IFPA

New Membership Structure

The new IFPA membership structure is targeted to go into effect on January 1, 2007. All of the details of the new structure are available on the IFPA Membership page.

In short, there are three "tiers" in the new structure, whereas the old membership structure had only two tiers (free membership and the $10/year IFPA memberships). The new tiers are briefly described below.

Tier 0: This is the free membership available to anyone you signs up for an account at Nothing is changing here.

Tier 1: In general, this tier replaces the $10 per year IFPA memberships. It is intended to represent active players, those who have competed in an IFPA sanctioned event within the last 12 months and those actively involved in footbag. Open players are no longer to pay a yearly $10 fee in order to compete at IFPA events. Tier 1 memberships are free for 1 year or $10 for a lifetime Tier 1 members. Anyone who ever paid $10 for an IFPA membership in the past will automatically be given a Tier 1 Lifetime membership.

Competitors at IFPA-sanctioned events since the 2006 Worlds are already getting complimentary 12-month Tier 1 memberships. As of this writing, this applies to competitors from the following tournaments: Worlds, US Open, Funtastik, and the 8e Open de France de Footbag.

Tier 2: This tier is for event organizers. IFPA Event Sanctioning now requires a Tier 2 membership. Memberships at this tier cost $25/year or $150/lifetime. Anyone who paid for a Lifetime Membership under the old structure is automatically given a Lifetime Tier 2 membership.

Rules Committee Update

The IFC had a successful meeting at the 2006 World Championships in Frankfurt this past summer. The committee meets annually to discuss the direction of the sport and update rules as appropriate. Although most committee communication happens via email and the online forum at, this in-person meeting is critical for closing the loop between discussions and the formalization of resolutions. New rules approved at these meetings do not take effect until January 1st of the following year. There were no rule changes made affecting Footbag Freestyle, Golf, or Consecutives at the 2006 IFC Meeting. The committee did, however, approve the following Footbag Net rule modifications:

1. The committee approved a modification to the server rotation rules (303.03) to require the receiving team for the first serve in a doubles game to choose one player to receive and then require that person's partner to serve first (thus imposing the same player rotation scheme after the first side-out as there is for the rest of a match).

2. The committee approved amending the rules so that a bag contacting another player through the net (incidental contact with the net/bag as a result of the force of the bag pushing the net into a player on the other side) should not be considered a foul, and the bag itself should not considered "dead" as a result. Play may continue after such an event, if the team on the side of the net where the bag falls is able to otherwise legally continue playing with it.

3. The committee approved a complete rewrite of the section regarding net seeding. The newly written section lays out how ranking points are assigned, and requires the IFPA to provide player rankings to tournament directors of sanctioned events. The data must be at least available on an annual basis, as laid out in the section, before the tournament director does seeding for an event.

The 2007 rule book is available online at and has been translated into both German and Portuguese! Printed 2006 Rule Books can be purchased online from the World Footbag Association. Please contact John Leys, IFPA Rules Director and IFC Chair, for more information regarding the Rules of Footbag Sports.

IFPA Sanctioning Update

Sanctioning an event with IFPA provides many benefits. For the organizers, you can add competitors to the IFPA Tier 1 roster, take advantage of the online registration service available at, and solicit donations that may be tax-deductible. For the players, it means a 12-month IFPA Tier 1 membership to, your results from IFPA sanctioned events are included in IFPA rankings, and knowing that you can expect some level of consistency from one IFPA sanctioned event to another, including competition played according to the Official Rules of Footbag Sports.

What's new with Sanctioning in 2007?

1. Tier 1 memberships: Attending a sanctioned event gets you 12 more months of IFPA Tier 1 membership. For tournament directors of sanctioned events, you can give all players and volunteers 12 month IFPA Tier 1 memberships.

2. Applying: You must be an IFPA Tier 2 member to apply for sanctioning.

3. Deadline: We now require applications at least 30 days in advance of your event.

4. Online Registration: This is available for sanctioned events, but requires 2 weeks to set up. So if you want to open registration 30 days before your event, you should have your sanctioning approved 6 weeks prior to your event.

Click here to find the event sanctioning application.

Interview: Jeremy O'Wheel

September 21, 2006, by Eric Chang (EC)

EC: For those players who may not know you, tell us who you are.

J: My name is Jeremy O'Wheel, I live in Tasmania (Australia), and I've been pretty involved in footbag organization, as well as playing freestyle footbag for a long time now. I helped found the Australian Footbag National Council, and also founded the Hobart Footbag Club, which is hosting next years Australian Freestyle Footbag Championships. I've also been involved with the IFPA a bit, including being on the board of directors and am currently a member of a few committees. I've also been fairly active on the forums in the past.

EC: How did you get into the sport of footbag?

J: We used to circle-kick at school, and one day in the holidays I was a little bored and did a search on the internet for hacky sack and found I saw some of the tricks and thought they were ridiculous -- and I said, "that's impossible". I then saw they had videos. I watched the video of Ryan Mulroney at the 2001 World Championships, and thought that was the about best thing in the world. Since then, I've been playing footbag every day.

EC: So, then, how long have you been playing footbag?

J: Five years.

EC: What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment to date in the sport of footbag?

J: Good question, I think I've helped push the sport in Australia, but I can't take all the credit. It's definitely one of the things I'm most proud of. Also, with the work I did while working with IFPA, while I didn't succeed with exactly I wanted to do, I felt like I like made some progress. Also I feel the part I do outside of playing is far more important than my skills are. Since I think I can do a lot more things for the sport than just being a really good player. I'm really proud of what I've achieved with the Hobart Footbag Club and I still have a lot of aspirations of pushing the club to be bigger and better.

EC: What have you enjoyed most about footbag?

J: Well, I enjoy footbag. I think it's all the cool people you meet around the world. I met Dylan Fry from Canada, who is now a really good friend of mine, through footbag. You meet so many cool people from around the world, people who I wouldn't meet if I wasn't playing the sport. I think the connection and the social aspect of the sport is really important, too. Also I like the way I can push myself the way I want to; I don't have to rely on other people to get better. Like other sports I've played, especially team sports, which I really enjoy as well, I found it incredibly frustrating since there are often a lot of things out of your control. Unlike footbag, where you have complete control over how well you play, and I guess that maybe says a little but about me as a person as well [laughs].

EC: What is your most memorable footbag moment?

J: Probably my doubles routines at the 2005 Australian Footbag Championships with Dylan Fry from Canada. We were fruit-picking a month before the championships, and fruit-picking is really hard work. We practiced the routine everyday, not to mention it was 30 degrees and there were like millions of flies. But we really pushed hard, and when we got to the Australian championships, it paid off. So you could see how much hard work we could put in, and winning's always good.

EC: Do you like the direction footbag is going?

J: I think we're definitely heading in the right direction, just in the short time that I've been involved there has been a fantastic increase in the popularity and promotion of the sport. I guess sometimes I find it too slow because I want it to be the biggest sport in the world tomorrow. I guess it's just because I'm a fairly impatient person.

EC: What is your favorite trick or combo?

J: My favorite trick changes all the time, it really depends what I'm trying to hit at the time. My favorite trick though might be Symposium Furious Mirage -- pretty cool. Favorite combo: I think Superfly to Whirr is a pretty good combo that I've been hitting lately.

EC: Is there a trick you would like to hit, that you haven't hit before?

J: I think there are a lot of tricks I'd like to hit. Probably the one I want to hit most at the moment is sailing mobius. It's pretty hard but I've come very close to it a few times, just haven't been able to seal it yet. It's probably a little beyond me though, so I try to practice the components that lead up to it more.

EC: What is the preferred Footbag you kick with?

J: I play with my own bags, I played through a lot of different bags, and there are a lot of really good bags out there, but when you order them into Australia you face the risk of customs cutting them open to look for drugs, which happens to about 50% of bags I think, so making my own is definitely a much better option. I really prefer small, heavy bags so making your own means you can know exactly how the bag will turn out.

EC: What are the preferred shoes you kick with?

J: At the moment, I am kicking with G-Units (which are mesh rather than the leather ones). I prefer them over the Lavers, because even though they're slightly more bulky -- I feel like the support is much better.

EC: Are there any tips you would like to offer to people who are just getting into the sport?

J: I think the most important thing is that you have confidence in yourself. You should look at the top players in the sport and think "that's what I want to do" instead of thinking "wow, that's too hard for me." Attitude is crucial and I think you can see with all the top people in any field that they have a very strong self belief and they're prepared to make the effort because of where they want to get to, rather than where they are at the moment.

EC: What do you think when you hear the word "hacky sack"?

J: My first thought is it's not "hacky sack", it's "footbag". I guess it doesn't bother me. It used to, but I've come to realise that the sport is so great because of what you do, not what you label what you're doing. Sometimes I'll correct people and try to explain why it's called footbag, but often I'll even just call it "hacky sack" myself because I hate having the same conversations over and over and it's too much trouble to explain it, etc.

EC: Any shout-outs?

J: To all the Australian Footbaggers to keep up the good work, if you guys are reading.

EC: Finally, is there anything you would like to add before closing the interview?

J: Support IFPA, because the IFPA is really what makes footbag a sport -- without it we're just a bunch of guys with a hobby of kicking a bag around. I think centralised organisation is crucial in promoting and expanding the sport and there is no way this will happen if people don't get on board the IFPA and help out in whatever way they can. Don't wait for somebody to ask you if you can help, have a look and see what you think needs doing, then volunteer to do it. It sometimes feels like there are very few active people in footbag, beyond their playing abilities and it would be fantastic if this could change.

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