Many people were introduced to Subbuteo in the United States when Jokari became the first mass distributor of the game in 1981. Jokari started the American Subbuteo Association in 1982, and the 4-page instruction sheet included an ASA Membership Application on the back as well as some information about the American Subbuteo Association. In the early days Jokari received over six thousand letters of interest. Tournaments were organized and newsletters produced, and the ASA held the first ever National Championship in the summer of 1982 in which John Bailly became the first U.S Subbuteo association crowned Champion in the U.S.
John Bailly and Tim Tumminaro—ASA runner up were our representatives at the 1982 Subbuteo World Cup in Spain. As an interesting note the ASA and Jokari selected John to represent the ASA in the Junior division at the World Cup and Tim Tumminaro (the runner up) to represent the Senior division even though both players were around 16 at the time. David Ligon from Jokari accompanied the U.S players and was the first ASA national organizer. Many players remember an early introduction to Subbuteo through Jokari sponsoring the PBS program “Soccer Made In Germany.” Advertising isn’t allowed on public television, however, Jokari had the ingenious marketing solution of having the hosts’ use a Subbuteo set to highlight and diagram plays at halftime of the featured match.
During this period Subbuteo playing associations received the lion share of organizational help from the manufacturer and distributors of the game. This became a strong marketing tool and as part of that only “Manufacture approved equipment” could be used in competition. Subbuteo in the United States wasn't affected as much by the trending dissent in the coming years from other parts of the globe where players were demanding more control of the competition away from a marketing scheme that mandated that only certain types of equipment could be used. Poor organization and support kept the ASA from blossoming for another decade. The license to distribute Subbuteo in the United States subsequently went through several distributors, and ASA organization was part of this. The Next license holder AG Industries began the practice of assigning player registration numbers. Jokari maintained a little more hands on when they oversaw the ASA at least attempting to build it as a competition based organization whereas with AG it was purely run out of their marketing department as an afterthought. In the early 1990’s Subbuteo Associations around the world were developing as purely player run organizations. These burgeoning player led groups were severing ties with the governing body called FISA and the preceding SSG/Waddingtons competition organization and organizing the player led world organization FISTF. A big reason behind the change was that players wanted more flexibility in the type of playing equipment used instead of following rigid “Subbuteo only style playing equipment.” Many players were finding ways to mass-produce superior equipment in small runs and wanted to utilize the new playing equipment in competition. The American Subbuteo Association followed suit and members Mick Bodley, Eric Meier, Jason Bell, and Jon Schultz were instrumental in guiding the ASA through this transition.
In the early 1990's the current form of the American Subbuteo Association was reorganized as a player run organization. In 1992, Matt Miller won the first ASA National Championship of the player run era. The following year, Steve Aberle of Holland, Massachusetts won the event. The group from Holland was the most powerful in the USA. Aberle's half brother Jeremy Meyer was the National Champion in 1995 and their father, Mick Bodley, was the ASA President for several years in the early 1990's. The most dominant player of the early 1990's though came from the Midwest. Jon Schultz of LaPort, Indiana dominated the 1994 season, winning all but one of his tournament matches. He went on to represent the USA at the Subbuteo World Cup in Chicago. Schultz played well but didn't make it to the knockout rounds. The tournament proved to be very valuable to the ASA as Schultz, and three other members of the ASA, gleaned valuable skills and strategies from Europe's best.
Rick Wilcox, Gregg Deinhart and Matt Wintersteen were at the tournament in 1994. Wilcox was part of Global Sports Marketing (GSM), American distributor at the time, and Deinhart was a volunteer, working with GSM to help put on the event. Fueled by the high level of skill and competition, they returned to the Washington, DC area and founded the Washington Tuesday Subbuteo League. Within two years, the WTSL would become the strongest club in ASA history. Wilcox won the National Championship in 2002, making it the seventh consecutive year that a WTSL player has won the event. He was also the first US player to be nominated for World Subbuteo player of the year and he shared the ASA #1 ranking with Deinhart in 1996. Wilcox also won the inaugural FISTF Grand Prix in 1999. It was one of the biggest Subbuteo upsets ever on American soil as Wilcox was the first to defeat a top-ranked European. Deinhart won the National in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2001. He has also won, 2 FISTF Open tournaments and over 30 ASA events. Deinhart has also played in the World Cup in 1998, 2000 and 2002, where he was a seeded player. He's the first US player to advance to the second round of the World Cup, and held the ASA #1 ranking from 1996-2002. Deinhart was also nominated for World Subbuteo player of the year.
In 1999 the ASA officially joined FISTF as a Partner Nation and annually hosts International tournaments. Today the ASA has many traditions including tournaments such as the Holiday Silver, the ASA MLS Cup, the Copa De La Rocha, the Nemo, and the Mary Jane.
Subbuteo Table Top Soccer in the U.S. Timeline
1974—Ben Olsen represents the U.S. at the Subbuteo World Cup in Germany
1981—Jokari from Dallas, Texas becomes first U.S mass Distributor of Subbuteo. Jokari sponsors “Soccer Made In Germany” on PBS and Subbuteo is used for demonstrations on the show. Jokari receives over six thousand letters from individuals interested in the American Subbuteo Association
1982--Jokari oversees the inception of the American Subbuteo Association
1982—First American Subbuteo Association National Championship held in Dallas, Texas covered by local media and Soccer America magazine
John Bailly of Florida champion
1982—John Bailly and runner up Tim Tumminaro attend Subbuteo World Cup In Spain
1983—Jokari sponsors Subbuteo tournament at NASL Championship
1986—AG Industries in Seattle, WA takes over administration of ASA, introduces Membership registration numbers
1990—Global Sports Marketing takes over as U.S. Distributor of Subbuteo
1990—Jason Bell represents U.S. at Subbuteo WC in Italy
1992—American Subbuteo Association evolves into a player run and organized association
1994—24 players attend National Championship. Jon Schultz champion
1994—Subbuteo WC held in Chicago Illinois. Jon Schultz represents ASA and U.S.
1996— Washington TSL start a run of providing the next 10 individual ASA National Champions
2007— 67 players compete in the Holiday Silver Open event in Ellicott City, MD.
2008— The ASA sends a U19 team to the FISTF World Cup in Vienna, Austria.
2008— Idaho club BUSL host the National Championships in the Western region for the first time.
2016— ASA sends 8 players to the World Cup in Belgium