Shropshire Star

15-year-old girl playing in Subbuteo World Cup says game has ‘come back to life’

Ruby Matthews started playing the football game with her father but now represents England.

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Ruby Matthews is competing in the Subbuteo World Cup this year

A 15-year-old Subbuteo player competing in the game’s world cup this year has said it has been great to see tabletop football “come back to life”.

Ruby Matthews, from Flintshire, Wales, loves the game which reached the height of its popularity in the 1970s and 1980s but experienced a resurgence during the coronavirus pandemic.

Players use miniature models of footballers on rounded bases to score goals by flicking a ball around a green table marked out to look like a pitch.

Ruby Matthews from Flintshire, Wales, plays the tabletop game in which players use miniature footballers to flick a ball around a table (Simon Jacobs/PA)

Ruby told the PA news agency: “It’s basically like football, but obviously with figures and then tactically, it’s quite similar to maybe chess.”

Ruby was introduced to Subbuteo by her father when she was seven.

She said: “He played it when he was younger and he wanted to get back into it, so we started playing together and then it sort of just developed from there.”

Ruby represented England in the 2022 World Cup in Rome and competed at the European Championships in Gibraltar last year.

The student is hoping to bring home gold in the under-16 category at the biannual Subbuteo World Cup in September, which will be hosted for the first time in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, where the game was invented in 1946.

Weetabix has also stepped in to support the English Subbuteo Association, providing brand new jerseys and even a ‘finger physio’ and coach to aid their efforts to win the tournament.

Ruby said of her World Cup preparations: “Obviously, I’m nervous and it’s sort of a stressful time but at the same time, I play Subbuteo because I enjoy it and I’m just going to go ahead and have fun and then see how I do.

Ruby said Subbuteo has strengthened her bond with her father (Simon Jacobs/PA)

“Me and my dad have started playing more because it’s building up to the world cup and when we get a bit closer I’ll do training, like shot practice, so when I have a shot I feel more comfortable and I know I can score.”

The England team will compete in six categories – under-12s, under-16s, under-20s, open veteran, and ladies individual and team events – and all are hoping to beat reigning champions, Italy.

Ruby said Subbuteo has strengthened her bond with her father: “Since we started playing, we’ve definitely got closer because we’ve travelled a lot together and it’s been a great way to be together.”

Subbuteo experienced a surge in popularity during the pandemic, with the number of teams known to be playing regularly in the UK growing from four to more than 50.

Ruby practises with fellow Subbuteo player Elliott Bellefontaine (Simon Jacobs/PA)

“I think it’s really good that the game has come back to life, so to speak, and to get more people involved,” Ruby said.

“I think it’s always been quite a struggle for young people to be involved but there is slowly a few more youth coming into the game.”

Weetabix has partnered with the English Subbuteo Association to support Ruby and her teammates in their quest for gold.

Ruby said: “I will play over two days, so obviously I am stood up for a lot of hours and I’ve got to stay focused and having Weetabix will help me keep that focus and aim to bring the gold home.”

For a chance to get the Weetabix Advantage, nominate yourself or someone you know at before June 5.

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