There are times when football is not just a couch sport, and you’re not only a bench coach. There are those who gather religiously every week, to play football with their mates. And within the four lines, within the 5 aside pitch, football is what unites them and what separates them, between sweat, dizzying dribbles, genuine laughs, and many goals.

If you are thinking about getting into shape but hate going to the gym, and are considering a new fitness regime, but nothing too extreme, then perhaps a weekly game of 5-A-side football with your mates is the sport for you.

5-A-Side is a casual game which friends and work colleagues can enjoy after work, during lunch or perhaps on weekends, its non-invasive however rather physical if you want to take it really seriously and it’s the ideal way to socialise with your pals.

It’s a great way to get fit in a fun way, and in fact, you hardly feel like you are working out at all, so why not give it bash?

There are many benefits to playing 5-aside-football. Weight loss, physical fitness, heart health, plus physical and emotional wellbeing is generally improved by exercise. For anyone currently feeling stressed or perhaps under a lot of pressure due to work-life or personal issues, its ideal to start exercising, it releases some of the endorphins in the brain (the feel-good factor). It helps people to cope better, to feel better and generally more positive.

Ok, so I like this idea of playing five a side football, where do I begin?

Basically, all that you need is a team and a schedule that everyone can attend. It’s not hard trying to find a group of eager players or a venue to play at because it’s actually one of the most played sports in the country.

Usually, it is much more fun to play football with your mates rather than with strangers, so spread the word, start by talking about it to friends, family and work colleagues, and see if anyone else is keen to start a team.

The tricky part may be trying to find a time that suits everyone rather than the actual team, in fact, you may find quite a few that want to join the team, if so perhaps schedule two matches per week so that it gives more options to players who may struggle to attend on certain days.

5-A-Side is fantastic since it requires fewer players than your regular football team so if by any chance you have more players than you need, it doesn’t really matter, since players can act as subs for one another and that’s ideal if you have only just started getting fit and perhaps worried that you may not physically manage a full game yet.

How about the equipment? What do I need?

Most indoor football venues consist of Astro-Turf pitches; these artificial grass surfaces allow for a smooth flow of play with the correct footwear. If you wear Grass Boots on AstroTurf, you won’t be able to perform to your fullest potential because annoyingly they tend to snag a lot and it holds players back, so studs or blades should be avoided.

The best footwear to wear on Astro-turf /Artificial pitches is Astro Boots (which are specifically designed to suit the surface), but if you prefer a boot that can be multi-functional (in case you like to play on real grass too), then we recommend Football trainers with rubber soles. Both options grip the surface but do not snag, offering a better quality of play.

No muddy surfaces is a great positive when it comes to indoor play, But make sure your boots are clean (before you use them on AstroTurf) to avoid leaving a trail of dried out chunks of mud from your last game outdoors.

Polyester is the general type of fabric that standard football kits are made of, the benefit of wearing polyester is that it traps sweat within the fabric, so you don’t get unsightly sweat patches. And not only that, they are fast drying and cooling so are more likely to keep you comfortable during the game.

By all means, you can wear any t-shirt or swap shorts for sweatpants if you wish, but chances are you will be much hotter and sweatier if you do so.

Although 5-a-side is fairly different from 11 football, it’s not necessarily softer play, and players can still pack a punch when taking the opportunity to score a goal. So, for the sake of any potential injury, Indoor goalkeepers are advised to wear gloves as they normally would during outdoor play.

And remember, nobody wants to travel far, especially if you’ve been at work all day!

Keep the venue local so that it’s within easy reach to all players and chances are it’ll be more successful. You may have to discuss what players regard as ‘suitable’ before you begin, to ensure it’s a fair distance for all players!

But finding a suitable 5-a-side pitch doesn’t have to be difficult, with two all-weather venues located both on the North & South of Dublin, Astropark is everybody’s top 5-a-side football venue of choice.