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How To Run A 5 A Side Football (Soccer) Tournament

Updated on December 20, 2013

Whether it’s for charity, between friends or for your colleagues at school, work or university, a 5 aside football tournament can be lots of fun. Fundraising is easy and, with some planning, the organisation shouldn’t be too difficult either! Just follow these five easy steps on how to run a 5 aside football tournament.

1. Set a Date and Check Availability

The first step is to set a date. Give yourself plenty of time (at least three weeks) as many five a side venues are booked up well in advance. Make a rough estimate of how many teams will be taking part in the tournament and call a few venues to ensure they have availability on your chosen date.

Things to consider when making the estimate are:

  • How many teams are going to enter?

Ideally, you’ll want a minimum of eight teams although smaller tournaments could work.

  • How long do you have to complete the tournament?

Is the tournament going to be completed over an afternoon or an entire weekend? Consider your target audience when making this decision. Many people won’t have time to commit an entire weekend to 5 a side!

  • How much will it cost to rent a pitch?

The more teams you have, the longer the tournament will take and the more it will cost for you to hire the pitches.

  • How many players are going to be in each side?

Set a minimum and maximum number of players per side to ensure everyone gets game time but teams aren’t left short in the case of injuries or latecomers.

Once you’ve taken all these factors into consideration it is time to attract some competitors! Before you do that however, provisionally booking the pitches is a good idea to ensure you have the pitches in advance.

2. Populate the Tournament

Advertise your tournament to your chosen target audience. Social media is a great place to start, although putting up flyers around work, university or school will also attract attention. If you are going to be raising money, include your price per team. Along with the price, include all other necessary details such as location, dress code and kick off times.

A sensible idea is to limit the number of teams able to enter the tournament. This way you are able to accurately calculate how much it is going to cost to rent pitches and how long the tournament is going to take to complete.

Only accept entry from a team once they’ve paid their entrance fee. This commits them to the tournament and prevents any last minute drop outs.

Decide upon a prize for the winning team – this will help attract more competitors!

3. Complete the Draw

By this stage you will have already begun to consider the format of the tournament. Will there be a group stage, a simple league or a group stage followed by a knock-out? The number of teams you have entered will likely dictate your decision. Depending on how long you have the pitches booked for will also have an influence.

If you have 16 teams, 4 groups of 4 with 2 from each group going through to a quarter finals is a popular tournament format. If you have as few as 4 teams, consider a round-robin league where the top two teams play in a final at the end and the bottom 2 play off for 3rd place.

Whatever format you decide, let the competitors know in advance and be clear about what happens in the event of teams being tied on points before the first ball is kicked. This will help you steer clear of heated disputes once teams get competitive!

4. Confirm the Booking and Prepare for the Big Day

Once you have the money in from your teams, confirm the booking with the owners of the pitches and pay up any moneys you owe them. This will ensure you don’t turn up and find you’ve been double booked on the day!

Once the booking is confirmed, prepare yourself for the big day. Ensure you have all the necessary footballs and bibs for the tournament and consider printing off brief rule books for each team. The rule books ensure there are no disputes come game time.

Recruit any referees and officials you require well in advance of game day and consider asking friends to cover in case anyone lets you down last minute.

Take into consideration any insurance you may need to cover yourself in the event of an injury.

5. Enjoy the Day!

Once the day of the tournament arrives, try to have fun! It is likely that you won’t be playing as you’ll have to run around organising people and ensuring everyone gets kicked off on time, but do your best to take it all in.

It is always worth telling people to arrive half an hour before they actually need to as people often have a habit of being late!

Speak to people throughout the day and persuade them to stick around after the football has finished for a drink and to watch the presentation.

Good luck!

Where To Find 5 A Side Football Leagues

Five a side football is a fantastic sport to become involved in, regardless of your level and ability. Whether you want to join a serious team, competing for league titles, or get involved in a friendly league and have a kick around with your mates, there are leagues all over the country for you to join.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll be playing week in, week out in no time at all.

Get Your Team Together

The first thing to do is get yourself a team together! This could either be a group of friends, work colleagues or old team mates. If you are serious about competing, ensure you find a group of peers with a similar ability or you could find yourself falling out at training sessions and on the pitch!

It is always a good idea to get together a team of at least 7 or 8 players. This means you will have a few substitutes for game days and also gives you some leeway when certain players can’t make a match. Having 1 or 2 extra fringe players is also a good idea as playing without substitutes can be a seriously tiring task.

Find A League

There are a number of things to consider when actually searching for a 5 a side football league for your new team to join.

Firstly, you need to find a league that runs at a time when your team can attend. It is no good joining a weekend league if half of your team work Saturdays! It is likely that your kick off will vary by a couple of hours each week as many leagues fit in their entire weeks’ worth of fixtures over one weekday evening or weekend morning or afternoon.

Once you have found a handful of leagues that match your availability, consider your own ability levels and what you want from the league. Are you looking to compete seriously or do you just want a friendly game? Are you looking for 5 a side, 6 a side or 7 a side? Are you hoping for a social side after the matches?

Many leagues actually have a number of divisions and, upon entering, the organisers will ask about your ability. Be as truthful as possible – it is no fun being trounced every week or turning up and playing against opponents far less gifted than you are! In any case, the league’s division structures should mean you quickly end up where you deserve to be.

Look online to see how well the leagues are organised. The best will regularly update their fixture lists, results and league tables. You’ll also be able to tell straight away how many divisions and teams each league has. Often, leagues will also run cups for their member teams too.

Another consideration to make is how much you will have to pay for league entry, administration and referees fees. Most leagues won’t break the bank, although it’s worth considering if your team are on a tight budget.

Across the country there are hundreds, if not thousands of five a side leagues to compete in. A search online or a visit to your local sports club will put you in touch with plenty to choose from.

Get Yourselves a Strip

Looking like a footballer can really make a difference on the pitch. Turning up in matching kits can really let the opposition know they are in for a game. There’s nothing worse than having to play in sweaty bibs that haven’t been washed in weeks, either.

There are several sports shops both off and online who will be able to provide replica or unique kits for under £10 a shirt.

Of course, you could always go the whole nine yards and have a crest and names printed, but that’s up to you!

After all that, all that is left is to train (maybe) and compete. Ensure you regularly check fixture lists as they can be prone to change. If you are the captain or organiser of the team be sure to give everyone in your team plenty of notice with regards to fixtures. If you can’t field a team you will still have to pay the league and referees fees. Consider putting in a few training sessions, especially in your team’s infancy to dust off the cobwebs and promote some team spirit!


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