Way back in the summer of 1998 I moved to Munich to study. I had left behind me one of history's great footbag scenes in Portland OR. Most of the names wouldn't mean anything to any of you reading; Mike Parker, Saul, Clancy, Eric Anthony and many others I can't remember, but the sheer number of quality players meant there was always someone to play with. I didn't know how good I'd had it.
I'd had the good sense before I left to check Footbag.org for local clubs so I could contact them before I left. There weren't any. There weren't even any clubs anywhere close. No matter, I'd teach them. There was at least a player registered at footbag.org who listed his location as Munich. Durring that summer I met Kai who for a while was the only other person in Munich who could hit a two add move. I think we managed to meet up every two weeks or so.
I set up a new club at footbag.org (now renamed) called "the Underground". I built a website for my club, which looked like crap, but ironically eventually got me a job at Siemens. I kept meeting hacky sackers all the time, and did my best to teach them tricks and get them motivated, but no one seemed interested. In the land where organisation and beaurocracy are forms of religion no one was even willing to pay lip service and add their name to the club. People came and went but still the "club" consisted of me and an increasingly hard to find Kai.
In 2000 I was done with Munich. Wading through Bavarian beaurocracy is a horror I never care to repeate and I never quite came to grips with the culture. After 2 years I had more friends in German cities I'd only traveled to a couple times than I had in Munich (if you're thinking of coming to Germany, Munich is a wonderful place to visit, but I wouldn't live there again even for a million Euros and a date with Natalie Portman). I got a job on the other side of the world and took off. One of my fond memories is how one of the few friends I did have in Munich, Grischa (who actually lived in Paris) came over to see me off and make sure I didn't sleep before my flight. Thanks again for the beer Grischa.
Going from semi isolation in Munich to total physical isolation in South Korea (in my city, counting me, there was one footbager), somehow I managed to get really good. I skooled my weak side, learned a ton of new moves, started working my consecutive 5s and hit my first 7 add trick, blurry miraging dino, a brand new move I named spinal graft. Sadly it didn't last, like every foreign worker who works in South Korea I got horrendously ill with some sort of bug and then my employers tried to work me to death. About the time I started working 13 hour days (yes, 13 hour days. I did a picture diary at one point. It was dark when I left home, it was dark when I got back) I got an e-mail in broken English from some kid named Daniel who had moved to Munich and was excited about footbag.
His timing of course (I write with dripping sarcasm) couldn't have been better. I wrote back in German to sadly inform him that the club, much like my being at that point, was nothing but an empty shell. He was dissapointed but asked, since there was already a club with a nifty name, if he could take it over. But of course. I checked back now and again to see to my surprise how names kept being added to the club. No surprise isn't the word, something closer to anger and frustration but mixed with a dash of joy and hope. I'd tried for 2 freaking years to start something in that city and everyone had waited till I left to get interested in footbag, it felt like some sort of conspiracy.
Towards the end of my year in Korea I managed to work out a deal with my employers to leave early to attend the 2001 European Footbag Championships in Prague (see "I made Vasek"). On my way I stopped in Munich to say hi to some people and see my club. As luck would have it they were having a tournament while I was there. Yes that's right a tournament. Now I knew there was a conspiracy against me. Anyway I had a great if brief time. I remember meeting one girl who noticing my accent (I hadn't spoken German for a year remember) told me Americans are the sexiest men in the world. Later that year Daniel organized another tournament in Nuremburg which is where I'm told former German Champion Stefan Siegert got his start.
My club has since been renamed, but it's still there. It tought me a valuable lesson though, everything works better if I don't organize it. My apologies to the Munich crew and thanks for reading.