As published on mycentraljersey.com
Kids, parents invited to strategic games
Written by AL DITZEL STAFF WRITER
NEW BRUNSWICK — Al-Karim Campbell and the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency, East Brunswick, are hoping some kids will catch “the buzz” of electric football.
From noon to 9 p.m. April 30, the NCADD will host a day of electric football, featuring “professional” players and coaches and clinics for all kids interested at the Hub Teen Center (nbrec.com) at 411 Joyce Kilmer Ave.
Unlike video games, which include a lot of thumb-pushing movements, electric football is an actual strategic board game. “Coaches,” as they are commonly referred to on the Miniature Football Coaches Association website (http://miniaturefootball.org/), move each of 11 players into position to play on offense while the opposition sets up the defensive 11. After seeing the setup, the offensive coach will audible (move a player or two according to the rules of the day) and the defensive coach adjusts (also moving a player or two). A button is pushed and the players vibrate into a buzzing action. Depending on how each coach sets his players, using either Total Team Control bases or rookie bases, the play develops. This can take a minute or two to conclude.
Then, each “coach” must reset his team again.
Campbell said he believes that the required and concentrated effort of electric football is helpful to children.
Electric football was a part of Campbell’s youth. Growing up in New Brunswick, he said his hobby was slot cars. He said he heard that a family down the street was really into electric football, and he became interested in the game.
Campbell said quite a few of the neighborhood kids got into electric football. Soon, they developed coaching squads. In fact, the love of the game often helped solve problems among the kids.
“Instead of getting into fights, we’d let the games settle the issue,” Campbell said.
Campbell said he played electric football until age 16. After his family moved, he found that the kids at his new location were not into the game. Instead, the friends he gravitated toward were into hanging out, and as a popular scratch DJ known as “DJ GrandMaster KC,” Campbell said he thought that he left his hobby for good. Soon, Campbell became a teenage father (his first son, Keon, is completing his bachelor’s degree in business this June).
“I didn’t see how important the game was to my youth,” he said. “I was trying to fit in. I was hanging out after parties. I sold all my electric football stuff and slot cars.”
Since Campbell had become a parent, he said he believed he needed to forget about the game of his youth.
While working for the Lord Stirling Community School in New Brunswick in 2005, the principal approached Campbell and asked him to help a particular student.
“He was on his way to getting expelled,” Campbell said of the student. “He needed something.”
Campbell remembered the game that he loved when he was young, but first had to find one to use. When he did, Campbell used it to help get the kid interested in it.
“I began teaching him about electric football,” Campbell said. “Really, we were teaching him how to sit still. The game makes you concentrate on what you are doing. Yeah, we were practicing plays and things, but it was just to settle him down. Once he learned the game, he told other students and by the end of that year, we had a full kids’ league.”
Some MFCA members, including Joe Greco, traveled to help Campbell as the New Brunswick school hosted clinics, as well as a couple of banquets.
While Campbell used the game to help the New Brunswick boy (he never was expelled from school), it also resparked Campbell’s interest in the game. Once Campbell became a member of the MFCA, he began playing more often and found success with it. Campbell was known for his team’s running game, especially with the quarterback. He even went to the Big Apple Miniature Football League, known as the BAM, Super Bowl in 2008.
On April 30, the Hub Teen Center will see the likes of Roche, Greco, Mike Guttmann from Minnesota, Morgan Scott (from the BAM), Bob Slate, Jack Thomas, Joey Fields and others known as Raiderman (National High Voltage Football League) and K-Lo (champion of the Baltimore Electric Football League and Baltimore Bash). Campbell put out an open invitation on the MFCA website, as well as in an article he wrote for The Tweak Holiday Edition, the official magazine of the MFCA.
“We’re going to play some games,” Campbell said, noting he will have a rematch with Guttmann from a 2006 playoff game. “We’re not playing for trophies, though. These people will be donating things to the teen center. We’ll have free giveaways for the kids.
“I realized that over the last couple of years, I was getting into the competition a little much, but we all want to give something back to the kids.
“You cannot abandon that,” Campbell said. “You have to give something to the youth and having something like the teen center to turn to gives the kids an option.”