Chinese Football Brings Football Anywhere You Go

This post answers the following questions

1) What is the other term for Chinese football?
2) How to play Chinese football?
3) Where does Chinese football probably started?
4) When does Penny football first showed up?
5) What will you need in playing Chinese football?

If you grew up in an American school, odds are you played so-called Chinese football. Even if you’re not from the United States, you’ve still probably played it with someone who is. All it requires is a piece of notebook paper, a tabletop or other flat surface, and a little aim. Some knowledge of American football won’t hurt, either.

Chinese football is also known as paper football, finger football, FIKI football, Biren football, tabletop football  and flick football. Here’s the gist of it: You take a strip of paper and fold it into a triangular piece. That’s your football, which you then flick down the table with one finger toward your opponent’s end zone.

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From Field Goals to Fouls

How complex a game of Chinese football you want to play is really up to you. On the basic end, you can have a simple field-goal contest where each player attempts to flick the football between the upward-pointing fingers of his opponent. In this version, a tabletop isn’t even required. On the other end, you can play a full game of football, complete with touchdowns, fouls and first downs.

The more you know about American football, the more you can apply it to Chinese football (which shouldn’t be confused with real Chinese soccer, which goes by the same name). You can set some of the same rules, use similar timekeeping, even send games into overtime and sudden death. The outcome of overtime is typically determined by a round of “rock, paper, scissors,” but if the game remains tied after that, the first player to score in a round of sudden death wins.

Of course, the more complicated the game of Chinese football, the better a player you’ll need to be. Flicking a field goal demands nothing more than aim. To play a full game of football, you’ll need better control to keep the paper on the field.

A Schoolchild’s Pastime and an Adult’s

Chinese football goes back a ways — at least as far as the 1950s. It probably started in American schools, and that’s where most people first encounter it. In fact, before the advent of the paper triangle, Midwestern students used matchbooks and Connecticut students used quarters.

A similar game got started around the same time. Penny football (also called coin football and shove ha’penny football), which remains popular today, first showed up in 1959. In this game, you slide pennies back and forth across a tabletop in particular arrangements to mirror real football plays.

Chinese football has long since spread to the adult world, with a national championship “bowl” game, blogs and mobile apps. It’s a pastime for most, but a serious game for a small group of dedicated players.

Schoolroom Origins

Still, because Chinese football was born in a classroom, many players still use rules and innovations with similar roots. Timekeeping often follows class schedules. Games often start and end quickly, as do classes. In one version, teachers tie the game to quizzes, with correct answers required before players can take possession of the ball.

It may have begun as a child’s amusement, but it’s developed into a game enjoyed by children and adults across America. Chinese football is easy to play, you can play with its rules and limits, and it will keep you entertained almost anywhere.

B.J. enjoys covering sports topics like table top football offered by Action Mat Football.

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