“ 5 a side football at Goals Soccer Centres throughout the UK. „
I have always kept myself involved in football from a decent level on a Saturday to kick abouts with my mates. With the growing improvements to artificial pitches the world of 5 aside football has grown vastly. Goals Soccer Centre's have taken the lead in the competitive market place by setting up pitches all over the country. I have taken part in tournaments and leagues in their centres in Reading and Southampton.
The pitches are very small approximately a sixth of the of the size of a regular pitch and caged in. The cages are from metal and wood and keep the ball constantly in play which makes the game fast paced and very tiring. The matches I have played in lasted 36 minutes with a couple of minutes break at half time. Although 36 minutes is not long I can assure you that it is a lot of hard work and you will feel benefits to your stamina by playing every week. Due to the small size of pitch and high tempo there are many goals which add to the excitment.
The league tables and fixtures are always updated when you come in for your game. They stick them up on a notice board that often has bundles of people looking at where they stand. These league tables are also very easy to view on their website (www.goals.co.uk) which also shows you upcoming events and tournaments.
Although the leagues and tournaments are well run it is the level of referees they employ that frustrates me. I'm not expecting the best officials but just someone that cares and wants to be there. I have seen it too many times where ref are not even watching the game and on some occasions texting on their phone whilst the ball is in play.
For a team it is usually five pounds each if you have two subs (which can be used roll on roll off). It is great value for money and I urge anyone who likes playing the game to get their friends together and join a league. When we won the league we all got a free pint. What can be better than football and a free pint?
One of the challenges involved when running an amateur football team is finding a place for the team to train during the winter months when the light fades early and floodlights are required. Many sports centres and health clubs have Astroturf facilities but booking these is often quite restricted and is difficult to arrange at short notice. For the past couple of years my team have trained at many of the Goals Soccer Centres scattered across south London. They are ideal as each centre has many all weather five aside pitches, flood lights and are reasonably priced by the hour.
I believe the Goals brand was founded way back in 1987, but it has been over the last five years or so that the company has really come to life. Most of the centres are designed in similar ways. The features are a large car park (so you never have to worry about parking), a helpful reception desk, male and female toilets and changing room facilities, a spacious bar with reasonably priced drinks (sky sports news is usually shown in the bars or live football if there is any on and water is always kept on the bar for players to help themselves after a dehydrating game) and numerous all weather flood lit 3G pitches.
Teams have two options really at goals. Firstly there are leagues which run almost every night of the week with many different divisions enabling you to find your standard. I have played in several of these leagues and they are very good, referees are provided and trophies are awarded to the winners. The second option is hiring a pitch out at an hourly rate; this is what we do when we train at Goals. I believe to hire a pitch for an hour cost around £60.00; pretty decent price I feel. We have also found that some of the newer goals centres are quieter and here you can often stay on for longer free of charge which is always good.
There are currently thirty four branches of Goals across the United Kingdom with two currently under construction. As I have said already I have been to quite a few of the different centres and have never been disappointed.
I'm from London and these are the centres that I know of in and around the London area:
- Beckenham North
I would definitely recommend Goals soccer centres to teams wishing to train in the winter months as the facilities are perfectly adequate and it is available at a fair price.
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.
I use my local 'Goals Soccer Centre' every week and its a great environment to play football in and socialise with friends. On the whole, there is always a free, large car park so parking is never an issue. When inside your welcomed with a reception area, bar and the pitches. As you would expect, the drinks in the bar are a little over priced to compensate for thirsty footballers. However, the pitches and fencing around the playing fields are always tidy to give a sense of security.
The pitches are mode out of 3G grass which is a cross between astro turf and grass itself. This means there's no sand in your shoes when you come off! Although saying that, you get small, rubber stones go in instead which can be a little annoying. With it being 3G grass, weather is never an issue because it soaks in the rain very well. I've never seen a water logged pitch as of yet.
The only and big downside of 'Goals' is the price. You will need to pay to join the league, then another £39 per game. So split between 7/8 of you can easily rise to £5 each for 30mins of football. So make sure your team has 8 or 9 players so the price is cheap enough for each of you.
To sum up, 'Goals' is a great place to play football and the refs try to keep the game flowing at all times. Plus there's always a nice bar to relax in after the game.
Goals Soccer Centres, usually referred to as just Goals, are soccer centres with several five a side pitches and often a seven a side pitch where members of the public can play with friends or competitively in leagues. Goals Soccer Centres are the most successful commercial five a side operator in Europe. In partnership with Umbro and FourFourTwo, Goals currently has thirty one branches spanning the United Kingdom with another four more currently under construction. It's biggest branch in Leeds claims to deal with just under 380 teams for their leagues.
The branch closest to where I live, and fortunately just a short walk from my home, is the Wimbledon branch which was one of the first branches to launch. I have been going there for a number of years during my childhood in my Newcastle shirt pretending I am playing at St. James Park and I really enjoy it. At off peak times, if you take ten friends it will cost you a few pounds each unless you're lucky enough to get a discount because of where you work. A friend of mine works at Waitrose and can book a pitch at an off peak time for just ten pounds for everyone. It is a bit more expensive in the evening when most of the leagues run at about six pounds per person, that is if there is a pitch available. Goals centres react to demand, so if there is demand for another Monday night division they will open one. At my Wimbledon branch for each weekday there are a fair few divisions with the usually funny team names involved such as Inter Yernan as a play on Inter Milan. If you are in a league they will charge you on the day you are playing and usually for kits and an initial cost as well.
It is not just for casual kick abouts with friends or an organised league setup every week and then off to the bar in the centre though. You can also organise parties at Goals where once paid for you can use the premises for food as well as the football party with one of the staff.
Now I know I am talking about my branch, Wimbledon, but I have been to a few Goals branches and they all look remarkably similar in layout. The reception, bar, changing rooms and facilities all look in immaculate and fresh condition and look very professional. The pitch condition is always very good with the astroturf being maintained by tiny black balls with a tarmac feel. These are a pain at the end when you take your shoes off and you end up emptying loads of black balls out of your shoes. Don't worry though as you can not feel them. The pitches are about the size of your average five a side pitch, blocked off by walls up to your chest and netting from there. The centre spot, penalty areas and penalty spots are clearly marked out in white and the goal nets come out rather than being pushed into the wall. In my opinion the goals could do with being higher and a tiny bit narrower but this is down to personal preference. I much prefer being on the seven a side pitch with the bigger goals and more space to play but I do enjoy both.
Of course Goals is not a cheap option and you can easily go to the park and put the jumpers down for goal posts. But whether you want a good organised kick about or a nice competitive setup, Goals is pure quality.
For those of you have not heard of Goals Soccer Centres it surely must be a case of two things - either you live in a small village or you are not a football enthusiast.
Goals are the leader in the market when it comes to five and seven a side outdoor football. They have 32 centres scattered all around the UK and my local goals is Bexleyheath which is situated in Kent. There are 2 seven a side pitches and 10 five a side pitches. All different centres will vary on how many pitches they have. There are a few options when you get to goals - you can join a league, play with your mates or hire it for kids' birthday parties.
All centres will have a different amount of leagues and even though I would say I am a pretty handy player there are some what we all call the ringers. I have seen players from Millwall, Welling United, Leeds and Charlton playing down there - this is something I know that the goals management cannot prevent but when you think that my team are in the fifth league out of six it's a little bit stupid and seeing as my team do it for the fitness and to have a social game, it can sometimes get a little bit out of hand with the scores going above twenty. Every league match you play you can have a max of eight players a team for the five a side matches and there is a ref supplied. The price is a big issue as each team has to stump up close to £45 to play two twenty minute halves of football so if you only have the bare five you are looking at £9 each. If you are looking to just hire out a pitch with your mates it will set you back £80 plus for an hour and the seven aside at least ten pound more than this so it doesn't come cheap.
Every Goals I have played at has great changing and shower facilities, which also offer lockers. What many Goals centres are doing, and this is to keep in mind for everyone, is they offer the bar area free of charge for people to hire for evening dos, parties, weddings etc. I am taking it they do this to create customer base and make money from the bar, so if you are looking for a free venue which in my experience are very spacious try your local Goals centre.
The playing surface at goals is surrounded by very high mesh fences which prevent the ball going onto other pitches or smashing cars but with my shooting you never know! The playing surface is a light layer of fake grass and then these really annoying little black bits that end up in your trainers at the end of the night and if you are wearing white socks it stains so BEWARE.
Overall I would recommend goals to anyone who has an interest in football or is looking to gain a level of fitness and remember if you are looking for a birthday venue pop down to your local goals.