Among all of the difficulties in making football happen, finding and managing players is by far and away the biggest and most time-consuming aspect of it. And sometimes it’s a huge frustration.
Some weeks it seems you’ve got so many people wanting to play that you’re having to turn people away. The next week, you’re facing the ignominy of going through your phone book begging people you haven’t spoken to in 5 years to turn up and play in goal.
How to Manage Your Players
In order to set up a successful team or even just a regular kickabout, you need a certain sized pool of players to choose from. It’s important that you divide all of your potential players into two types:
- Regular players – those who will play more-or-less every week and you can depend on.
- Casual players – those who will often not be able to play and you know you can’t rely on.
For organisation purposes, take the latter pool and disregard them. That’s not to say that you don’t contact them, but treat them as bonuses – if they somehow can play, great. If you try to rely on them, they’ll drive you mad.
Instead, the key is to focus on your pool of regular players. These are the ones who let you know their availability and can be relied on to turn up – they’re the ones who keep the organiser sane.
Tip: prioritise commitment over ability. As an organiser, your regular players are your priority. Don’t drop somebody who can turn up every week for a more skilful player who will only turn up occasionally. That’s a sure way to turn-off your regulars and leave yourself with organisational problems in the future.
When you Don’t have a Big Enough Player Pool
You want a pool or regular players that’s at least as big as the number you need each week. Yes, you’ll have drop-outs from time-to-time, but hopefully you can fill those by trying to persuade your casual players to fill in.
However, sometimes you won’t have a big enough pool of players. This might be because you’re just starting up, or it could be because you’ve lost some of your regulars (if that’s because your football session sucks, and everyone hates it you’ll need to address that before you go looking for others – see what to do when it’s not fun any more). Either way, it’s time to go and find players for football!
The good news about finding football players
If you haven’t got enough players, it’s time for a recruitment drive. The good news is that there are a huge number of ways to tap into hundreds of potential players that are just waiting to hear from you about opportunities to play football.
I’ll show you below a stack of ways that you can find extra players – and many of them are all things that have worked for me in the past.
Before you know it, you’ll have a scouting network bigger than a Premier League club, and more players than you can handle.
Things you really should consider before beginning your search
Before you go casting your net into the ocean of football players, you need to get a few things straight. From looking for players myself, I learned that you need to be very clear right from the start about a few details:
- Where and when are your games
- What format the football is (5-a-side, 11-a-side etc)
- What standard of player you are looking for
- Whether it’s casual or serious
- How much it is going to cost
- What level of commitment you are looking for
Also, when you don’t know the players that you’re recruiting, you might want to consider saying something like “come along for a game and see how it goes, then we can take it from there”, rather than making commitments that they’ll play every week and become your best buddy.
Remember, if you don’t know them, they could be anything from unacceptably below the standard needed to a raging psycho, so you want to leave things open for both you and them to back out if it doesn’t suit all parties.
So, on to the list of things you should try.
1. Speak to people you know…and the people they know
Sounds obvious, I know, but an easy starting point is to simply speak to people you know – your friends, your work-mates, anybody who you physically come into contact with.
Even if they’re not able to play, they might just know of someone who will, so make sure that you ask them if they know of anyone who might be interested.
Try to exhaust all avenues of people you know – and make sure you ask them about their contacts. That’s potentially hundreds of people.
2. Put it on your Facebook page
Facebook recently clocked the milestone of 1billion people logging on per day. To the football organiser, that’s 1 billion people who might be interested in a game of football.
Why not just put something out there and see who’s up for it. The beauty of facebook is that it will be seen by your friends, plus their friends and also some acquaintance you’d otherwise forgotten about. Even the people who seemingly just use Facebook to look at videos of cats might even be tempted in…
The thing here is to make sure that you include enough details so people know exactly what they’re getting into, but also put it in a positive way that makes people want to get involved. Something like this post that I put on my profile a while back:
25 comments shows I must have got it about right. I ended up raising a whole team from that – mostly people who didn’t know each other already. With hindsight, I could’ve perhaps said ‘please share with friends who might be interested’ for even more responses.
You might even consider sharing in local Facebook groups, but be careful not to break any group rules that will lead to you becoming a social outcast in your local area.
3. Use local listing sites – free, widely used and LOCAL
If you’re not getting anywhere with friends and acquaintances then it’s probably time to disown them all.
No, just kidding, the next step is actually to go online and try and find people in your local area who you don’t know.
One great, and much underrated, resource for finding footballers in your area is Gumtree. This is a free listing site that is used by a surprisingly large number of people. To give you an illustration of how effective it can be. I put this advert on there:
… and 8 hours later I had found 3 players who were interested!
My tip in getting this right is to make sure that your advert comes across well. Select a good headline and a picture to make it stand out, then make sure that your advert is clear about what you’re looking for. Click the below if you want to read what I wrote as an example.
By the way, in your local area (especially if you’re not UK based), gumtree might not be the main listing site but there are always other free local listings sites that are available – e.g. craigslist, freeads, or other (which you can find by doing an internet search).
4. Community Notice Boards … For those not on the grid
There are people out there who don’t make much use of the internet and wouldn’t think to check something like Gumtree. For them, you’ll need to advertise in the real world.
Your local town will be full of community notice boards and these can be a useful resource for you. The main location you usually find these is in supermarkets. Near the entrance, or behind the checkouts they usually always have a board which is suitable for community adverts.
Your game of football, or your local football team is part of the community, so if you speak politely to the store manager they will usually allow you to place it on the notice board for a while. Supermarkets get very heavy footfall traffic (who doesn’t need to buy food at some point?) and potentially give you an audience of hundreds of potential players. Just make sure that you do the following when you’re doing this:
- Speak to a staff member before posting your advert, otherwise it might get taken down straight away.
- Make sure that you include an image – even a clipart picture of a football – so that you’re catching the eye of interested people.
- Include all of the relevant details and a contact number.
Again, this is an idea that I have tried before and it has worked well. In about 30 minutes we were able to get our ads placed in 4 supermarkets in the area local to our game and we got several responses over the next few weeks.
5. Find Football Players Online
When I told a friend I was looking for football players online, he preferred to describe it as ‘looking for men online’. And when he said it, I felt a little bit dirty all over.
Thanks to the internet you too can find men or women online, but let’s keep it to finding them for the purposes of playing football. There are several platforms are out there that are all focused on helping you find players and assisting you with organising your 5-a-side (and 6/7-a-side too). There are so many out there that we haven’t managed to test them all – instead we’ll let you give us your feedback if you try them. Please share your experience in the comments below.
Here’s a list of all the ones we are aware of (if you know of another that isn’t covered, let us know):
a) Findaplayer (http://www.findaplayer.com/)
A technically impressive offering and the only one of the ones listed to be a worldwide, multi-sports offering. It has a shiny app that seems easy to use. The problem is, when I logged on to use it, I couldn’t find any events within 100 miles of me. Needs to be used more widely, but it received £150k of crowdfunding to push ahead with its plans recently, so let’s hope it gains some traction.
b) Toepoke (www.toepoke.co.uk)
This is largely aimed at helping organise your 5-a-side, helping you send invites, pick teams, and keep track of results. But it also includes a feature that will list your football session so that other players can find it and ask to join you.
It’s UK-wide, and seems to have a reasonable level of usage.
c) Bouncefootball (http://www.bouncefootball.com/)
Very similar concept to toepoke, where it aims to help you organise your football, but also lets you advertise your session to other players.
This service is very much currently focussed on games Scotland, particularly the Glasgow area.
d) UK Football Finder – (http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk/)
I found a few players available in my area through this. Can be used as teams looking for players, or players looking for teams.
e) Local Footy (http://www.localfooty.co.uk/) players
Seems to have a few players listed, but restricted to big cities.
f) Your 5-a-side provider.
If you play in the UK at either a Powerleague or a Goals venue, both of these providers have ‘player match’ systems, but they’ll only find you games / players at their centres.
- http://www.playerwanted.co.uk/ – this is just for players who are looking for teams (you can’t use it as a team to find a player).
- http://www.myfootyapp.co.uk/ – Football organisation app.
- https://teamer.net/ – Sports management app. Organise, communicate, collect money. Used by over 2 million people. More aimed at organising football rather than finding players.
With all of the various methods of finding players out there, the only limit to how often you play football should be how much your aching limbs let you (and whether you are any good at negotiating with your significant other). Let us know if you’ve got any tips or tricks that have worked for you in finding extra players for your games.