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Ruby is a gem

While many children will be glued to screens to get their kicks from games, one 12-year-old is taking a rather more old school approach.

Ruby Matthews, from Mold, Flintshire, is already a table football champ and has been ranked UK best in her age group.

Despite only beginning playing five years ago, she is set to go to the table football World Cup in 2022.

"Ruby's table football pitch is permanently on the dining room table," said her father Cayne.

"We only take it off for two hours a year for Christmas dinner."

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While some football team owners might struggle to control their players, Ruby has all of hers under her thumb - and flicking fingers - whenever she wants.

Ruby said that for her, the sport is "tactically better" than a computer game.

"It's something unique which I enjoy. But I also play football a little bit so it's a variation of that in a way."

Table football was invented in the 1920s and involves flicking miniature weighted players across a felt pitch to strike the ball and score goals.

And like grass football's Harry and Jamie Redknapp, Ruby is a chip off the old block. She's followed her dad into table football as he was North Wales Subbuteo Champion for about three years in his youth.

"It would've been 1974," said Cayne. "You get a box set for Christmas aged six. You break it, but you're still fascinated and each year you start asking for more," he said.

"You play your friends, you play in school."

Cayne eventually put the box back in the attic but five years ago took it down to introduce it to his daughter.

"We found ourselves playing two or three times a week, or two to three times a night sometimes," he said.

The pair set up their own club and have been holding events every month for about five years.

Ruby achieved best junior winner after a 7-1 win in Wolverhampton in 2021

Ruby has already racked up numerous competition wins and was the UK's top ranked under-12s player.

"I've played in many events but one of my favourites was in Wolverhampton a couple of years ago," she said.

"Me and my dad and two others played other teams from the UK and it was the first time we won a team event."

Despite her success, she said she had found it difficult to describe the game to her friends, with its sometimes complicated rules.

She's due to compete in September on an international level representing Wales in table football World Cup in Rome, in the under-15s category. She even has a sponsor to cover the family's costs of taking her to tournaments. Her father said the standard in Rome would be high, but Ruby had been able to get plenty of practice in during the pandemic. How does she feel about it? "A bit nervous, because I've never obviously played in one before," she said. "But quite excited because it'll be something different." Source:

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