You will know when it exists -- Obscure journalism direct from our man on the ground.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Frescobol... in London


The first time I heard about Fresco-ball or 'Frescobol' was in Mediterraneo, Monocle's summer newspaper. I liked the look of the sturdy wooden paddles that would undoubtedly last longer than the cheap, plastic, souvenir-shop bats I was used to. Prior to reading Monocle's annual guide to poncing around Europe's coastline, I had never considered investing in quality equipment for the beach game known, to me and my associates, as Pit-Pat: two people hitting a ball back and forth to each other. But now it all made sense, I was fed up with how quickly the tourist-shop tat broke...
I was ready to get serious.

While investigating which brand of bat to buy online, I came across a London based group who went by the name of The Superflex Frescobol & Beach-Tennis Club. I got in touch with them and they invited me to a beach-sports open-day at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.

The first question that I asked them was "Is this a really a sport?"

"YES", apparently.

To play competitively, each pair has to bat the ball back and forth to each other as many times as possible in three minutes. Teams take it in turns against the clock and at the end of the competition the pair with the most passes wins.

Well it would be if there weren't also extra points awarded for 'style' - i.e jumping & diving.

I had fun at the open-day and the barbecued jerk chicken was tasty, but I never returned.

I had not yet reached a point in my life where I was ready to fully commit to a club. Though shortly after I did get my own set of paddles and a ball and I must say they add a whole new level of intensity to a simple holiday past-time. Compared to Pit-Pat, Frescobol is more accurate and powerful and much faster. 

One of the reasons I finally decided to write this post is because I met a blogger - Laila from Brazil - who seeks out cultural curiosities in Europe and compares them to similar cultural phenomenon in her home country.

SO - I decided to contrast Frescobol in the UK with the same sport played in its spiritual home:

The English only feel the sand between their feet for about two weeks a year and games like beach tennis are a side thought. In Brazil the sun can be taken for granted and with major cities on the coast,  additional reasons - like sport - may be required before a visit to the beach is called for.

In the UK, 'Pit-Pat' is something you do when you go to the beach.

In Brazil, Frescobol is a reason to go to the beach?

Having played it once at The Imperial War Museum park in early autumn I have concluded it is only really fun at the beach. Parks are for drinking cans of stella in. But one has to admire Team Superflex for attempting to introduce Frescobol to the UK, for their dedication to the sport even in the winter and for the innovative fashion that derives from playing a Brazilian beach game, in a sandpit, in Crystal Palace.


  1. haha massive like on this one manbearbig. i reckon you should commit to the club as the guys look ace

  2. It is a lot of fun you should give it a try

  3. So... what bats did u get??

    1. I got a Brazil Groove Aerograph Pro Kit >

  4. Thanks for all the comments :)