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Tag Archive: health

  1. Mental Health – The hidden benefits of 5-a-side

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    Words by Nick Frith

    For years mental health has been a subject barely mentioned in football, and even less so in the pub. The classic British stiff upper lip has been in place, with the commonly used footballing phrases of ‘Man Up’ and ‘Run It Off’ making most blokes approach to mental issues quite clear. However, recently this has finally begun to change. It may have taken the tragic deaths of Gary Speed and Robert Enke for many in the sport to realise the importance of mental health, but it is gradually making its way into the public eye. The remarkable fact that the biggest killer of males under 45 is suicide is something that cannot be ignored any longer, and men are finally beginning to talk about mental health. About time too!

    The physical benefits of playing 5-a-side are well documented, but what is less known is the fantastic mental health benefits your weekly game can give you. Not only are you going to get a cardio blast, but also boost your mood, decrease stress and increase happiness.

    Mood – This is something anyone who has ever played a post-work game of football is has probably experienced without even realising. Ever turned up to play in a grump after a rubbish day, only to find 40 minutes later that you’re more enthusiastic, and things don’t seem quite so bad? That’s the effect of 5-a-side. Research has shown the positive effects exercise can have on mood, both short and long term. Putting on your AstroTurf boots is the first step to happiness!

    Stress – Living in London, stress is almost impossible to avoid. From trying to get on the tube on your commute, work deadlines breathing down your neck or counting down the days to payday, stresses are everywhere. So whilst it might be impossible to avoid the cause, dealing with effects is much more straightforward. Stress results in the release of cortisol and adrenalin hormones, which cause the emotional and physical symptoms of stress. Exercise helps use up these hormones and also results in the release of endorphins, thus reducing stress levels and increasing wellbeing.

    Self-esteem – This is one area where 5-a-side can really boost your all round mental health. Physical activity can have a positive influence on our self-esteem, leading to increased wellbeing and improving our ability to cope with stress. Basically, if you take on a cold and wet evening of 5-a-side then your confidence will be boosted in other walks of life. If your results on the pitch start improving this can be felt even more – so even losing by 1 less goal than last week can have a positive effect!

    Social Interaction – Despite being the most populated city in Europe, London can be a pretty lonely place. Ever tried having a conversation with someone on the Tube? Thought not. The social element of playing a team sport can also have a huge effect of your mental health. Signing up to a team can be a great way to meet people, and a group of friends you see every week is a pretty good support network should you need someone to talk to. Moving to London and starting a new job can be pretty intimidating, so playing some 5-a-side can be a great way to introduce yourself to likeminded people in the city.

    Depression – For those with depression, playing sport might feel like the last thing they’d want to do. Low energy levels and anxiety can make sport seem like quite a daunting prospect, but people have found some great results having got out on the pitch. A review of studies has shown that there is evidence that sport can help those with depression – the exact reasons aren’t clear, but as treatments go it seems like a great option.

    Sleep – Everyone wants the chance to get more sleep. 5-a-side can’t give you any more hours of shut eye, but it can improve the hours that you get. By increasing blood flow to the brain and helping to relax your muscles, exercising a recommended amount of 150 minutes a week has been shown to increase the quality of your sleep by up to 65%! This can result in better concentration and alertness, making your day in the office much more enjoyable. 5-a-side can offer so much more than a weekly kickabout!

    If you’ve ever suffered from depression or anxiety, or never given them a second thought, 5-a-side can do some great things for your mental health. Throw in the physical benefits, enjoyment and how easy it is to play, and 5-a-side continues to be one of the best forms of exercise on offer! With Spring around the corner and evenings getting lighter now is a great time to enter your team into a league. Check out all of our league options here.


    If you have been effected by mental health issues, or just want to find out more, there are some great charities offering support and advice:

    CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.

    Samaritans – Confidential 24 hour support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. Phone – 116 123.

    Mind – Promotes the view and needs of people with mental health problems.

  2. The Post-Match Pint

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    Words by Nick Frith

    There are many reasons people love playing 5-a-side. There’s the weekly workout leaving you covered in sweat with a quiet feeling of satisfaction, or the chance to emulate your favourite player and (try to) impress everyone with your skills.

    In my mind, however, there is one reason really stands out; the social element. A great excuse to meet up with your mates, enjoy some football and then settle down for a post-match pint. Once you’ve managed to get over the fact that you’ve just been beaten by 4 men, you can begin to enjoy your surroundings. With that in mind, it’s important to make sure the surroundings are the best they can be! London has such a selection of pubs so it is important to make the right choice, so here’s our league-by-league guide to where to get your post-match tipple.

    Battersea 6-a-side

    Perfectly located on the short stroll from our league venue Newton Prep School to Battersea Park Station is the fantastic Masons Arms. It’s a regular haunt for teams playing in our leagues there, and on arrival you can see why! Extremely welcoming interior with comfy seating makes it perfect for a winter’s evening, whilst the beer garden is an equally good option on a hot summer’s day. Head to their website to pick up a free pint on your first visit – if that doesn’t persuade you I don’t know what will.


    Battersea 5-a-side

    At the other end of Battersea Park Road you’ll find our other league in SW11, which has some equally good locations for your post-match analysis to take place. Our pick would be The Lost Angel. More than just a pub, the eclectic bar has both indoor sofas and a heated garden area, so is equipped for all seasons. What makes The Lost Angel even more inviting is the fact that all of our teams get 15% off all food and drink!



    We’ve got a 4 different venues in Brixton, as well as our offices, so we well aware of the excellent food and drink on offer! There is something for everyone and it would take far too long to list all of our favourites – for food it’s hard to beat Brixton Village, with a huge selection of tasty treats to choose from. A couple of drinking establishments worth mentioning are found opposite each other on Coldharbour Lane, Market House and The Prince of Wales. Both are equally adept for a quick pint or late night partying.


    Clapham Junction

    A short walk from our fantastic 3G pitch at Clapham Junction is an equally fantastic pub, The Plough, situated in a great spot on St John’s Hill. This is another versatile pub with plenty on offer, including a gift wrapping station during December – great excuse for a quick drink! Other favourites around Clapham Junction include The Northcote and The Merchant.



    Our league on Eel Brook Common in Fulham takes place on a Thursday night, which makes a post-match pint pretty much compulsory! There’s plenty of options around Fulham Broadway and Parsons Green – our favourite is The White Horse. The beer selection in here is pretty impressive, 8 cask ales, 135 bottled beers and they even recommend a beer for each dish on their menu. Another option is Brogan’s near Fulham Broadway, an Irish bar which is always showing live sport!


    Clapham South

    Clapham is full of great pubs and bars, and one of our favourites is The Avalon. It’s conveniently located between our league venue and Clapham South station on Balham Hill, and is a great place to wind down post-match, offering great food and drink as well some excellent screens for watching Champions League action. And if you don’t want to bump into your opposition after they’ve just put 10 past you, then you can hide in one of The Avalon’s three beer gardens!



    London Bridge

    With trains at London Bridge Station being about as reliable as England at a World Cup everyone has had 30 minutes to kill after a match at one of our London Bridge leagues. And even if you’re getting on the tube, don’t let that drag you away – SE1 has a fantastic selection of watering holes. In the summer months, the historic beer garden at The George Inn takes some beating. It’s the oldest pub in London, and if it was good enough for Charles Dickens then it’s good enough for us! An alternative option in the winter months is Wheatsheaf. This subterranean boozer has a wide selection of real ales and is very inviting on a cold winter’s evening.



    For beer lovers, there is one clear choice for your post-match tipple after a game in our Marylebone league. The Globe is just 2 minutes from Marylebone station, and has a wide range of craft beers to choose from. They look after our teams really well, with some great end of season offers. Punters often pour out onto the streets, and with a new kitchen opening soon its popularity will only increase!




    Our new Shoreditch league is kicking off in January, so we’ve done some research to find out where to send teams after their first game! For anyone who wants some more football action after their game, then Bar Kick is the place to head. Beer and table football? Perfect. If you don’t fancy the walk down Kingsland Road, then The Macbeth is the place to go. It’s a great venue hosting loads of live music, as well as some great beers.


    Canary Wharf

    Another of our new leagues, Canary Wharf has a good selection of venues for post-match refreshments. Our recommendation has to be The Parlour, slap bang the in the middle of The Wharf. Great food and drink, and always full of suits having an after work drink, which makes for a great atmosphere. The boys behind the bar used to play in our London Bridge league, so they know a thing or two about 5-a-side as well!


    Have we missed out your favourite? Get in touch and let us know where your team likes to go for their post-match pint!