If you didn’t spend days writing emails, poring over spreadsheets and hunting down every last player you can think of to fill that space on your team, the rest of those lazy ****** wouldn’t have a game to play.
You are the ‘Captain‘. The leader. The only one that cares enough to arrange for 9 others off their backsides and out onto the astroturf.
And I bet you’re sick of it.
You’re tired of the stress and hassle that goes into organising a game. The unpaid pitch fees, the complaints about the kick-off time, the last-minute call offs and the frantic search for replacement players. I bet that sometimes you wonder if it is even worth it at all, right?
But what if I told you that life could be more simple?
What if there is a way to get so many players that you have to start turning them down? And what if I told you that the logistics that go into arranging and booking a game could be as simple as clicking a button while you queue for your morning coffee?
I’m going to explain how with a little bit of time up-front and the use of some clever technology, you can take all of the stress and effort out of arranging a game every week.
Who Do You Want To Play?
Before you start blasting out that weekly email to your usual players I want you to take a moment to think about a few things.
First, consider why you are trying to arrange a game.
- Are you looking to just scratch that itch and kick a ball around a pitch for an hour while having a laugh with your mates?
- Do you want to play regularly to work up a sweat, blow off some steam and lose that beer-belly?
- Or is it more serious – competing in a local or national competition?
How you are planning to play will affect what type of players you should be asking to get involved. You need to consider where and how you want to invest all of your time and effort.
If it’s a casual kickabout you’re going for, then work on building up a list of friends and acquaintances. There’s no point trying to poach that fancy player from the local amateur 11’s if you can’t offer him a competitive game.
However, if you are looking to compete in a league every week then consistency is what you’re after. Stay loyal to the guys that play week in and week out and don’t bench them just because your old college room mate is in town and fancies a game.
Once you have a really good idea of what type of players you need, then it’s time to start building up your player network.
Build Your Squad
Regardless of what type of game you are playing, you’re inevitably going to get people that can’t play every week.
It is vital that you have a large network of players in which you can dip to fill those spots on your team. You should target having a list of people 2-3 times as large as the number you need each week.
So, if you are looking for 5 players to compete in a league, you’re going to need a pool of around 10-15 players to call on. If you’re arranging a regular kickabout with 10 players, then you’re going to have to build up that list to about 20-30 names.
Anything less and you leave yourself vulnerable to playing short.
Now before you start to panic, I am not saying that you need to have 30 players beating down your door. The players in your network should be a nice even mix that fall into 3 categories –
- Die-hard regulars that will show up week in week out
- Guys that enjoy a regular game but due to work or family commitments can’t make it every week
- Back-up players that can play a one-off game to help you out
So, open up a new spreadsheet or take a nice fresh piece of paper. Mark out 3 columns with the following headers –
- 1ST TEAM
- SQUAD PLAYERS
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Now comes the fun part – filling these columns with names.
You’re going to have to tap into as many networks as you can to get these names, and when you do, make sure you find out what kind of commitment they can offer. You need to determine whether they can commit to playing every week, will play most weeks or will help you out if you’re stuck.
If you’re stuck for places to look, try the following –
- Friends/family – this is the easiest and most obvious place to start. Send out text messages, email, get on Facebook or you could even try just talking to some of them.
- Friends’ boyfriends/girlfriends, husbands/wives – even if you’re friends aren’t interested, their other half may fancy a game.
- Work, school, college, university – put up flyers, use forums or message boards or even just send round an email
- LinkedIn – put up a post requesting players from your network
- Classified ads – use Gumtree or Craigslist to advertise for local players
- Meet-Up – set up a group on Meet-Up looking for players in your local area
- Futsal league organisers – if you intend to play in a league, most league organisers will help put you in touch with players that might want to join you
- Specialist on-line services – websites such as Bounce Football, 5aside.org and Matchfixed will advertise for players on your behalf, usually for free
- Local facilities – most futsal facilities will have a notice board that you could stick a flyer up on
- Futsal Football Coach – leave a comment below if you’re looking for players or drop me a note via email, Facebook or Twitter and I’ll send out a broadcast for you
With a little bit of directed effort up front it shouldn’t take you too long to get a good list of players.
Once you’ve got all of those players names and contact details, plug them into your spreadsheet under the appropriate column. Make sure you also make a note of the best way to reach them e.g. phone, email, morse code etc.
Make Your Players Desperate To Play For You
So you now have your list of potential players, and I bet you have a fantastic turn-out for those first couple of games.
The problem comes when the novelty wears off and you start to see the same old excuses in your inbox.
Unfortunately, you can’t force people to turn up.
But, you can entice them.
You need to have a team that people want to play for. Anyone can run a kickabout down the local park or leisure centre. So, anyone wanting to play will have their pick of games to get involved in – what makes your game so special?
If you’re going to attract good players that are committed to showing up every week, then you’re going to need to give them a reason to. So, try following a few of these tips to make your regular game stand out –
Choose a pitch that people want to play at
A few strategically placed cones down the local park is not going to cut it. With hundreds of state-of -the-art facilities around the UK and thousands around the world, there’s no reason not to get a good pitch booked for your regular game.
At an absolute minimum, the turf should be 3G and in good condition, it should be floodlit for night games, the goals should be sturdy and able to take a well struck shot and there should be somewhere warm and comfortable to get changed.
Do your players know where they are going?
Don’t complain if they show up 5 minutes after kick-off if you haven’t told them how to get there. Make sure that you are sending clear directions on how to get to the facility, where the changing rooms are, where you intend to meet and what pitch you are playing on.
It can look a little ridiculous if that ringer you’ve invited along has accidentally joined the game on the next pitch as you didn’t tell him where to meet.
Make it clear who is expected to turn up
Well in advance of kick-off you should send a final confirmed list of players out so that no-one has any excuses for not turning up. For a bonus point, you could even pick the teams beforehand so you can get straight on with playing as soon as everyone arrives.
Bring a ball
It is unbelievable how many games I have turned up to play in where no-one has thought to bring a ball. Buy yourself a half decent ball or two (try adding an extra pound/dollar or two onto the fee for a few weeks to save you forking out your own cash).
Reward loyal players
Give priority to those players that show up regularly. Make sure they’re automatically included on the team sheet. Look after the regulars and they’ll stay committed to playing for you every week.
Make it enjoyable for players
If you’re playing competitively, try to enter a league or cup where players are of a similar level and where your team can be competitive without feeling like you’re steamrollering every other team. The novelty will soon where off and players will think they’re not needed if you’re making light work of the opposition every week.
Welcome new players
If you’re inviting along a new player or two, make sure that you introduce them to the rest of the team and that everyone knows who they are. Try to make them feel part of the team and they’ll want to keep coming back.
Look the part
Make your team stand out from others and your players will think you’re a well run and organised team – someone special to play for. Bring along a set of coloured bibs, or dare I say it, matching strips or jerseys (despite what I said here)
Have a good team name
Having a stand out, witty, yet inoffensive team name will mean that players will remember you and will want to keep playing for you.
After each game drop a quick email to thank everyone for turning up. Feel free to gloat about your own performance as you see fit.
If players see your team or regular game as something that is well organised, competitive and fun to play for they’ll want in. Even if you’re not the most talented group of individuals, the camaraderie and fun nature of your game will tempt players into begging you to let them play every week.
Finally, How to Automate Everything
After 4 or 5 weeks, you’ll no doubt have a feel for who are the players that you can rely on to show up every week, those that enjoy a game but can’t always make it and those that should be relegated to the back-up list.
This is when you can go about making life a whole lot easier for yourself and letting technology do the work of arranging the game for you.
As one of the largest futsal providers in the UK, Goals Soccer Centres have released an app that attempts to do all of the arranging of your game for you. You do need to have a booking or account with Goals Soccer Centres for this to work, but if you play regularly at one of their facilities, this is going to be a really handy tool for you.
Once you’ve downloaded it from the app store, just login with Facebook or Twitter. You can then start adding your players to your squad using either their email address or telephone number (it’ll even search your contacts to save you typing each one individually). What I love about it is that it works even if you are the only one to download the app.
Once you have your squad set up, you can use the app for a range of things –
- Book your pitch
- Select who’s playing each week
- Share comments and photos between squad members
- Find other players to join your squad from the Goals database
Check out the video for a closer look –
If you’re not a regular at Goals Soccer Centres, then Toepoke might be better suited for you.
This is a web-based service that allows you to set up a regular game, invite your team mates, arrange who is playing and even select the teams before kick-off. You can send invites out either via email or on social media and your players will receive a link to your own section within the site.
Here they can let you know if they’re playing or not and can even write their excuses to you. You can then track all your responses in your organisers dashboard, from where you can select the teams.
One little thing that I do like about this service is that if you have too many players, you can set some to be on the bench, where they will be notified that they didn’t make the team but will be automatically notified if a space in the team comes up.
Here is the video if you fancy taking a closer look –
I’m really impressed with this one. It is both web-based and available as an app and can be used for a whole range of sports. Like the others, you can set up your team and add players, notifying them via email or text message. You can even vote for your man-of-the match every week.
However, there are two things that make this service stand out for me.
The first is the simple function of including directions to the venue to all of your players. As I mentioned earlier, if players know where they’re going then there are no excuses for arriving late.
However, it’s the Team Payments function that really makes this a great service. It allows you to collect payments for the booking from each of your players, directly through the site or app. No longer will you be left out of pocket when players don’t show up, as they will already have transferred the money to you when they confirm that they are playing. It is more likely that will show in the first place, given that they have already paid.
Again, check out the video here.
If all of these apps and sites are a bit too gimmick-ey for you, then maybe you would prefer just to use Facebook. After all, most people are on Facebook multiple times a day, so there’s more chance of them responding to you and checking out updates about the game ahead.
Setting up and managing a group couldn’t be more straightforward and they can be very effective. Just login to your Facebook account and select the ‘Groups’ option in your left sidebar. From within the pop-up you can set-up your futsal group and invite all of your players in minutes.
Just remember to make the group private if you want to restrict it to players that you have invited.
Also, you can now download the Facebook Groups app to your phone so you can manage your group on the go.
So why bother?
Because you love it.
The sweat, tears, playing till you puke, the goals, the blocks, the arguments, the celebrations, the little black rubber bits in your socks, the retro footballs shirts, and most of all the good laughs you have with your mates, makes it all worth it.
But armed with these tactics, you’ll never have a problem getting enough friends (or even enemies) to turn up and kick a ball about with you. And with a little bit of work up front and the use of some clever technology life will be so much easier.
Rather than getting stressed trying to arrange your game, with the help of this guide you can start to enjoy it.
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