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TRI TRI Again - ball game for a new era?

AN experimental full-contact field game - TRI - aims to appeal to many cultures. It just debuted in China and its inventor says 2010 Shanghai World Expo will be a perfect platform. Fei Lai tackles the subject.

If you thought contact field games were limited only to soccer, American football, hockey and rugby, think again. There's a fast, hectic, rough, full-contact newcomer to the field, TRI.

It's a work-in-progress that aims to appeal to different cultures.

TRI is played on a circular field with three five-man teams and one large pinwheel ball, about two-time the size of a rugby ball.

With three sides, instead of just two head-to-head adversaries, it's got a different feel.

With one winner and two losers a game, there's less us-and-them sentiment, less triumphalism and less drive to vanquish the foe.

It suggests a different more inclusive team spirit, and inventor Jeremiah Schwarz from New York says the time will come when society wants an alternative, more encompassing, but still hard-hitting sport.

For now, TRI is a work in progress. (Details on Website listed below).

It was first played in China on April 6 in a pilot game involving Chinese and expats (the US, Britain, France, Germany) at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, using half of a football field.


It was also the fourth public game anywhere in the world and the first outside the United States.

"It's a game proving that you don't have to play the sports that everyone plays every day," says Schwarz, a product developer who has lived in Shanghai for 17 months.

"Without any preconceptions, we can try out new ideas," he says.

The predominant influences, he says, are Australian rules rugby, football (soccer for Americans), basketball, and team speed ice skating.

He's getting feedback from players and spectators about improving the game and expects more games. There's already a TRI federation in the US and one is being formed in China, Schwarz says.

"TRI is not an invention °?- it's a compilation of many aspects found in different games from around the world," says Schwarz.

To appeal to different cultures and ages, he says, a game must be a large community activity that follows three basic principles: It must be easy to play, combative and comradely, and foster an expressive culture where stars are born and young generations inspired.

He is spreading the word and recruiting players and fans through Facebook, YouTube and other online media.

"The purpose of the game is to unify different cultures and people. It's a unity for sport. It's not like war. At the end, we are still buddies. Besides, it is designed for spectators who want to watch the game," says Schwarz.

"After the Beijing Olympics, 2010 Shanghai World Expo makes the city a perfect place to fuse different cultures. People are willing to come to Shanghai because it's an open city whose people are willing to try new things."

The "Squib" ball (registered in the US and soon to be registered in China) can be kicked, hurled, carried and moved about in other ways.

There's one ball in a game of 90 minutes, divided into three periods. All three teams, defending three goals, mix it up trying to get control of the ball and score as many goals as possible.

To begin, all three teams line up around the outer perimeter. When a whistle is blown, one player from each team springs to the central "hot zone" to retrieve the ball. A second whistle is blown when the ball leaves the "hot zone," signaling all players to enter the field and go for it.

"Players can use their entire bodies to control and move the ball," Schwarz says. "They can block, tackle and swat an attacking player's ball. Offense players can pass a Squib ball in any direction and carry it as far as possible. The shape constantly challenges the players."

According to Schwarz, TRI is a "design in process" that began as a cultural research project in 2006. He was looking into sports products, and visiting Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan.

He believes there will come a time when society demands a contemporary athletic alternative with a focus on teams and spectator enjoyment.

Since the game is still under development and subject to changes based on feedback, its federation is collecting ideas. A US league is expected to be launched in June, followed by one in Shanghai, Schwarz says.

"Whether you're a rugby player, a fan of basketball, soccer, American football or just want to be a spectator, if you enjoy new concepts, speed and hard hits, get involved to TRI and see how the new game can transport wants of future game into tangible reality."

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