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Kicking Up A Storm

By Trudie von Huben

WITH maximum energy, Wellingtonian Paul Grubi is adding to the capital's carnival atmosphere by creating the first NZ Footbag Championships

The champs, in Cuba Mall and Chaffers Park at the end of March, will cap a frenzied five-week stretch for the capital which starts with the launch of the Fringe Festival this Saturday (26 Feb). NZ Festival 2000 follows next week (3 March)

Footbag is the American term for `hackysack'. "The great thing about hackysack is that it attracts all types of people from students to business professionals," says Grubi

"According to a recent Wellington Regional Council poll, hackysack was recorded as being the fastest growing sport amongst youth in the region.”

Paul Grubi's enthusiasm for the sport was kindled on a four-year tennis tour of America, starting in Wichita, Kansas, then in Reno, Nevada. Later he began coaching in California, where a friend, Roder Stimpson, introduced him to professional hackysack

A three-year tennis coaching tenure in Europe saw a lull in Paul's hackysack, but getting back to NZ he has found other inspiring hackysack mentors. One such person is Neil Harrap, a 57-year-old Wellingtonian who in Grubi's words, "looks like a 21-year-old". A skilled `hacker' and astute businessman, Harrap is an example of the diversity of players the sport attracts

The three-day champs will include everything from individual `consecutive kicking' trials through to singles and doubles net events. Also included are `shredding' sessions (freestyle footbag), where players can demonstrate their hacky tricks and dexterity

A treat for Wellington hackers will be a freestyle workshop with Adrian Dick, considered NZ's best shredder. There's also a Saturday night dance party

The champs will coincide with Waterfrontskate 2000, an event organised by Arthur and Lynne Klap of Sports Impact

• Hackysack champs, Cuba Mall & Chaffers Park, 31 March_2 April, 025 289 3308. See also: www.footbag.org and
Festival City: p.9-16.

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