The Valley International Foosball Assn

What is the VIFA?

The Valley International Foosball Assn is an organization that works somewhat independently of Valley/Tornado. It is a sister company/program to VNEA the Valley Pool League Program. (The VNEA is approaching 70,000 members!--according to their last publication.)

What do they do?

VIFA was set up to develop and run a Foosball League promotion program. Valley has earmarked a large sum of money (possibly as much as $200,000 over the next 3 years) to support VIFA to get the program going.

What have they said they will do?

They said that they want to run a handicapped league that will allow all players to compete on a fairly even footing. As one would expect with a pool player base of 70,000, they really know their stuff about running leagues.

What are their goals and motivations?

Their goal is to get a big National. . .or International foosball league program going so that the average operator can have a ready tailored program to work with to promote foosball. Their motivations are that this is what they do for a living--run leagues. Valley is putting up the seed money, so they obviously want to have a program that sells tables.

The culmination of each years league play is to be the International Championships. The rumor is that they are trying to get a date in the first half of 1997 in Las Vegas for this event.

This event would be more of a fun blast with average joe players playing foosball for the prizes rather than a Pro Type tournament. (Although the idea of having a mini-tour event at the same location and at the same time has been mentioned.) In order to compete in the "Internationals", a player would need to participate in his local program. (Rumor is that the requirement will be a minimum of 8 weeks in a sanctioned VIFA league.) Other than being current with his VIFA membership this is the only requirement to play.

There will also be a team requirement that each 4 player team must have a minimum number of players that played together locally, and all members of a team must be rostered in the same state. I've heard that the 1997 requirement will be 2 players from the same team. Later years may be 3 players.

What does it cost?

It costs the promoter $400 annually, and each player pays $7 annually and $3 per week of league play. Those fees may be different from region to region and promoter to promoter. A vendor must have at least 30 pieces of Amusement equipment in order to participate. A guy with 28 pinballs and 2 fooses is eligible. A foosball promoter with 25 tables and nothing else cannot. (This is my interpretation of the charter.)

Who runs it?

VIFA is the umbrella organization. Charter holders (vendors) run the local leagues. It is set up so that the vendor can allow interested players do the promotion, with a President, Secretary, and Treasurer being voted in by the players, or appointed by the vendor, or the vendor can do these duties themselves.

All members must follow the VIFA Guidelines or risk expulsion and the loss of their $400 Charter fee. For instance, VIFA guidelines require the forwarding, at their request, of paperwork--including the individual match sheets--to substantiate a players rating (also known as handicap or HCP).

When will it start to do what it says it will do?

The VIFA program is currently running in some midwestern states, in Ontario, I believe, and I'm currently getting a season going in the Seattle area. I believe Link Pendley has signed up as well. My charter # is 15, so there are at least 15 systems that have paid up to participate.

Many of these are vendors who have had great success with the VNEA Pool League Program. My guess is that when the VNEA told its charter members that it was starting VIFA, that a lot of them joined and bought Foosballs because of the success and reputation of the VNEA league system.

How much does it cost?

$400 for Vendors, $200 for VNEA members, additional amounts for additional materials to run more than one 8-team season. $7 annual membership fee for players & $3 per week for their local prize fund. Location pay a seasonal fee of $20 to $40 per team sponsored (to reimburse the Vendor for the $400 fee, and to help pay for the costs of running the league.

What do you get for the fee?

VENDORS get a kit that has enough stuff to run one 8-team season (20 weeks or 2-10 week seasons?) They get some good looking posters (very professioal) some "Vifa League Location" stickers to put on the tables. Vendors also get a selection of award pins to show to the players (these pins are really well done, I was quite impressed).

PLAYERS get a package with some of the following: pins, a pen, a patch, a sticker or two, a membership card, etc.--things like that. Players also get a publication from VIFA 4 times a year. Part of the program is the award pins that are awarded to players by the Charter Holder/vendor. These pins come from VIFA headquarters.

LOCATIONS get the players there on off nights. The location's share of the quarters that go into the machines on league nights during the season are about equal to the Location sponsor fee. The locations get beverage & food sales, and their share of any increased play on the tables before and after the matches and other nights. A lot of locations give their team shirts in addition to paying the sponsor fee.

How will this affect Tornado foosball in local locations?

Lemme get out my crystal ball. It says that it should increase play and encourage new players into the sport.

If you have a local league already in place why should a promoter join the VIFA league?

I joined because everything is designed for me, I administer the rules rather than make them up (although I had quite a bit of input in the initial design of the program.) For locations and promoters, its a lot better to have nice artword on your posters, to have the pins to give out as prizes, to have an umbrella organization to help with rules interpretations, and to have the "Internationals" as the culmination of the whole program and a goal for your players.

I also joined because it will likely be a "money added" thing until it reaches critical mass and the size of it allows it to run on its own. This means that my players will receive the benefit of this initial bonaza. This is why Valley is so intent on getting this going. After three years, it is likely that the system is going to be self-supporting, and Valley will reap the benefits ad infinitum thereafter. (ie: Table sales $$$!)

What is the format of the league?

Teams of 2, 3, or 4 players. (Three optional programs.) Approximately 3 hours of play each week. Up to 24 week programs (I'm shooting for 10 weeks.) Up to eight players may be rostered on a team. The "Internationals" will use the 4-player format. The current 4-player format calls for: six games of Doubles, four games of Roto, two games of Singles, one Goalie-War, one Forward SO, one Four-on-Four. (Locally, we plan to substitute 2-Ball RB for two of the games of Doubles, and Rollerball for two games of Roto.) Fifteen total games per match, each player playing seven of those games. All games are handicapped based on skill level. Handicaps change week to week based on performance.

How will this affect Tornado tour events, if at all?

It is run separately from and in conjunction with the Tour. They have been talking about trying to get a mini-tour event to run in conjunction with the "Internationals" so that the Average Joes can interact with the top players and visa versa. I haven't heard if that is going to pan out or not.

Where can I get more information?

Valley International Foosball League--
VIFA: PO Box 656, 333 Morton St,
Bay City, MI 48707
R. Gregg Elliott is the Executive Director.
The phone # is (517) 893-1800.

The above answers are from Rocky Willson, the owner of Table Soccer Northwest in Seattle, WA. TSNW is a new probationary charter holder in the VIFA system. The above answers are not official VIFA policy or rules or anything like that. They are the opinions/interpretations of Rocky Willson, who has been known to be wrong. To get the complete story, contact VIFA at the address above.

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