HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The sport of FunEBall is taking Marshall University’s Rec Center by storm.
Dr. EungSoo Oh is the inventor of the game that is a mix between volleyball and dodgeball. He is also a visiting scholar, recently at Marshall University to teach the game. Marshall was the first location in the United States to learn the game.
Dr. Jennifer Mak, a Professor and Director of the Department of Sport Management at Marshall University, was a host to Oh, and said the sport was designed to allow for maximum participation for players, making participates enjoy themselves and also encourage challenges and cooperation.
“We are excited to be a part of spreading the game,” Mak said. “We are the first location to introduce the game in the United States. It was invented in Korea in 2013. Now it has been introduced and now popular in Korea, Japan, and Thailand.”
Oh, a native of Busan, South Korea, and professor at Dong-A University, spent 10 months at Marshall. After the introduction of the game on campus and at the West Virginia Physical Education Conference, he visited other conferences in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee to share the sport with physical education professionals.
The game consists of two teams ranging from four to nine players on each team that play three sets of 15 points. The game starts with the server throwing the ball over the net from outside of the set court to the opponent’s court. “Fun-E” must be yelled by the server followed by the defense yelling “Ball” to ensure they are ready to begin the set.
The server throws the ball to an open area on the opponent’s side of the court and the team scores points if the ball bounces twice without being caught. This is different from dodgeball, which teaches a player to throw a ball at a person, not to an open spot.
That was done intentionally by Oh to make more people participate and have fun. Mak said the game of dodgeball, which is prevalent amongst schools across the world, can cause hurt feelings for children and result in a fear of catching balls, because of getting hit and potentially hurt by them.
“You have to collaborate with your team,” Mak said. “The ball is specialized so you won’t get hurt even if you get hit. At the same time, for dodgeball, it is built for elimination. For this game, it is built to being cooperative.”
“This game can be very aggressive, played at a very high level and that is why the college students like it. At the same time, if you play with a group of little kids and their skill level, they can enjoy it too. This game can be introduced to people in wheelchairs, physical disabilities, mental disabilities, they still can play this game together. That is the importance of this game.”
Once a ball is caught by a team, they must pass the ball amongst themselves at least three times before throwing the ball back to the opponent’s side. The passes amongst the team must be completed or it counts as a pass miss. A pass miss results in a penalty throw which is done at the center of the attack limit zone set up close to the net. There is a service rotation like in volleyball that lets every player get a crack at serving until they break service point.
Mak said that FunEBall will develop running skills, catching skills, passing skills, and throwing skills for participants as well as teaching them to be more creative and the rules can also be modified to accommodate different team sizes and skill levels.
“It is a cooperative game,” Mak said. “You don’t have some physical, like most time, athletes that dominate a game and they cannot. You can have someone that is highly skilled and someone who is not highly skilled and they can still play the game together.”
FunEBall is an abbreviation of the game’s intent – to be Fun for Everyone, per Marshall University, with the intent to get more people active. In his trip to Huntington and campuses across the United States, Oh laminated low student participation in physical education classes around the world and made this to try and get more young children active.
Mak said she and Oh have been working on several articles that will be in professional journals about the game that will learn and teach it to different institutions in the United States. They want children to enjoy physical education classes again and for teachers that have trouble teaching kids in the same class of different physical abilities to have an equal game.
“They really enjoy it and especially the adult students,” Mak said. “When they saw it, they thought it was an easy game but after they started playing it they enjoyed it very much. They don’t want to stop, they have fun.”