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Setting up a work sports team

From connecting with your co-workers to becoming a better leader, there are loads of reasons to set up a workplace sports team. Here’s how to kick yours off. Whether it’s football or ultimate frisbee, netball or roller derby, playing sport can max your fitness and your wellbeing almost instantly. But did you know that playing alongside your colleagues could help you to feel mentally stronger as well as increase morale and productivity at work1?

“Playing sports gives you the foundation to be a self-starter, while overcoming adversity,” says Jed Hughes2, chairman of international recruiting firm Korn Ferry, when asked if ‘sporty’ employees make better workers. To add to this, Cornell University3 found that people who played competitive sports in secondary school showed higher levels of leadership, self-confidence and success through their careers. Even better, setting up a sports team within the office is easier than you think. Follow these six steps to transform office life for good... Here's an infographic showing you just how easy it is to set up your own work sports team.

1 School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (2017). Playing sports like football and rugby at work could not only keep you healthy but improve your productivity as well. Loughborough University,
2 Hughes, J. cited in: (2014). Are sporty employees better workers? BBC,
3 Kniffen, M., Wansink, B. & Shimizu, M. (2014). Sports at work: anticipated and persistent correlates of participation in high school athletics. Cornell University,

Choose your sport

Football, rugby, netball, cricket and hockey are the most popular team sports4 in the UK and there are plenty of leagues to join – both fun and competitive. But there’s so much more on offer. All leagues offer matches that you can easily fit into your lunch break or after work. Here are some of the best sports initiatives across the country:

Back to Hockey, The FA, England Rugby
Visit if you’re keen on a particular sport – they offer nationwide opportunities.

Power Play
Browse local football and netball leagues here.

GO Mammoth
Try this nationwide sport initiative offering popular sports alongside everything from dodge ball to cricket leagues, ideal for work teams.

Totally Sporty
Work in London? Visit here to match with a league, whether table tennis or water polo!

4 Steph Howe, Pitchero blog (2017). What are the most popular sports in the UK? 
Gather the troops

Send an all-company email, put a shout-out in the company newsletter or just ask around the office. Another option is to send out an email with a survey attached through Survey Monkey to see which sports get the biggest response. That way, you’ll know if it’s rounders, rugby, running or something else that gets people’s votes. Plus, it’s wise to recruit a few reserves for when people are ill or unable to make it. Don’t have enough players for a full team? Try Player Wanted or Go Mammoth and they’ll place you with similar players looking for a team.

Sort the finances

Some leagues are free to join, but most will charge a monthly or seasonal fee that you’ll need to find out before joining. It could cost as little as £5 per player, per week. Schedule a meeting with your HR department to find out whether they are able to help with the cost – they might be able to subsidise the joining fee or help with sports team kits.

Create a team name

When entering your team, decide on a strong name. A great way to get your team motivated from the start is to invite them to make suggestions for a playful prize (custard creams often do it). Then, select a captain and a treasurer to collect seasonal payments if you need.
Brush up on your skills

Schedule in some practice time before you start so that you can feel confident playing together. This is also a great way to get active in your lunchtime. You don’t need fancy facilities as there are thousands of local pitches, courts and grounds across the country. Visit My Local Pitch, Open Play or search on your local council’s website.

Become team players

Playing matches and practicing together is only part of the joy. From dinners to film nights to pub trips – getting together off the pitch is a great way to get to know each other and become an even stronger team. 
To stay in touch and share thoughts and photos, set up a WhatsApp or Facebook group. You can even share updates with the rest of the office, which could help to recruit new players. 
Good luck!