FutNet or nohejbal as it is called in Slovak is a well-known and popular sport in Slovakia with a long tradition, played on a recreational as well as competition level. It is practised by many people, young and old, men and women, both indoors and outdoors.
History of FutNet in Slovakia
FutNet came to Slovakia from the Czech Republic where it dates back to 1922 and where at that time it was popularly known as futbal cez šnúru or “football over the rope”. It was brought to Slovakia after the war, in 1945, by Prague footballers who used to come to the famous spa town of Piešťany for spa treatment. While there, they would spend lots of their free time at the volleyball court of the outdoor swimming pool, enjoying the “game over the rope”. Gradually they were joined by local water polo players and swimmers who very quickly got the hang of the game. Later on, the owner of a local leather shop, Štefan Bartovic, made the first FutNet net, 30-40 cm wide, fastened onto the poles with rubber bands. He was even an active player himself until the age of 75 and he can be considered the founder of FutNet in Slovakia.
Another famous FutNet place was the town of Martin, again thanks to Czech players. In 1963, a municipal league was founded in the town of Piešťany by Miloš Fabian and the first match between two towns – Piešťany and Martin – took place. This year could be considered the official beginning of FutNet in Slovakia. Here we should mention names such as Bartovic, Fabián and Stankovský from Piešťany and Mazal and Sobek from Martin whose efforts were aimed at creating an organised FutNet movement in Slovakia.
FutNet in Slovakia was spread above all by youth organisations which organised Slovak as well as Czechoslovak tournaments, especially in late 1960s. In 1968 an unofficial, but regular Moravian-Slovak league started, with the participation of the Slovak teams from Piešťany and Martin. The first year was won by a Moravian team, but the following two, 1969 and 1970, were won by Piešťany. Finally, in 1973, a FutNet Commission at Slovak Central Committee of Czechoslovak Sports Association (Komisia nohejbalu pri SÚV ČSZTV) was set up which started to manage first official competition – I Slovak National FutNet League (I. Slovenská národná nohejbalová liga) with 6 teams.
On 5 November 1974, the official Slovak FutNet association was founded under the name of Výbor nohejbalového zväzu SÚV ČSZTV or Committee of FutNet Association at Slovak Central Committee of Czechoslovak Association of Physical Education. The Committee was in charge of the Slovak national league, helped regional authorities with the start-up of their competitions and provided trainings for coaches and referees.
Until 1987 the competitions in Slovakia and the Czech Republic were played separately, but in 1987, Czechoslovak FutNet Association (Československý nohejbalový zväz) was founded (already in 1975 there had been attempts to create such association and federal competitions, but not successful).
As of 1988 the Czechoslovak championship (Majstrovstvá ČSSR) was organised regularly by way of tournaments with the participation of three best teams of both national leagues.
After November 1989 (so-called Velvet Revolution, peaceful protests which brought about the end of communism in Czechoslovakia) changes in sports structure in Slovakia ensued. In 1990, Slovak FutNet Association was renamed from Slovenský nohejbalový zväz to Slovenská futbaltenisová asociácia, but since the word „futbaltenisová“ led to confusion, in 1995 the name was changed to its present form Slovenská nohejbalová asociácia (to the left, its logo).
In 1993 Slovakia became a member of International Footballtennis Association (IFTA).
In 1994, Slovakia hosted 1st World Footballtennis Championship in men´s category and in 2000, 1st World Footballtennis Championship for women and juniors.
In April 2010 Slovakia became one of the founding members of European FutNet Association (EFTA). In the same year, after a period of stagnation and decline and due to frequent violations of the statutes, lack of progress and poor financial management, Slovakia decided to leave the world footballtennis federation FIFTA and on 16 October 2010 became one of the founding members of the new world federation which also brought a new name for our sport – Union Internationale de FutNet (UNIF).
To learn more about FutNet in Slovakia, click on the following links: