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Soccer In The City: Football Networking?

Castlefield pitch owners have big plans for Manchester. Boot up

Written by . Published on May 27th 2014.

Soccer In The City: Football Networking?

NETWORKING can be painful.

‘Hello, I’m (insert), I work for (insert), where do you work?’ Cock it. BANG.

“We’ve got a bars and restaurants league starting on Sunday nights with teams from TigerTiger, Terrace, The Wharf, Neighbourhood and Montpelliers – that’s going to be massive.

The only bearable networking events are the ones you can’t remember in the morning. Which defeats the whole point really.

Moyen Ahmed, co-founder of Soccer in the City in Castlefield, the only indoor 3G football pitches slap-bang in the city centre, spotted the gap and plugged it with a football. Changed the game, with a game, so to speak.

“While working at a legal firm in London,” Ahmed explains, “there were pitches by my offices, and every single lunchtime they were slammed. Hundreds of office workers would use their lunch hour to play in 5-a-side leagues. Being from Manchester I thought the city should have a slice of that.”

Soccer in the CitySoccer in the City, Water Street, Castlefield

“The reason it works,” Ahmed continues, “is that playing in the evenings eats up so much time. Time you could be spending with your family, with your mates in the pub or time down the gym. Lunchtime football makes so much more sense.”

He’s right. But isn’t football in your lunch hour still cutting things a bit fine?

“They’re 40 minute games, two twenty minute halves. So ten minutes here and ten minutes back to the office,” Ahmed explained, “That’s the beauty of our site in Castlefield. We’re the only city centre pitches that make lunchtime football possible for city workers. Employers encourage it if anything. It’s good for morale.”

More than morale, the lunchtime leagues and corporate tournaments have become a hugely fruitful platform for mingling, aka networking.

“It’s amazing what a game of footy, as opposed to a forced networking event can do,” says Ahmed. “I have seen first-hand how a couple of games of football and a couple of drinks has led to organisations ending up working together. Everyone loosens up and interacts more than if they’re just chucked in a room and forced together.

“We have teams of solicitors, barristers, accountants, bankers but also media agencies and recruitment firms, all playing and meeting up. Other workers from the office will come down to cheer them on and meet people they’ve only ever spoken to on the phone.”

Moyen handing out prizes at a charity eventMoyen handing out prizes at a charity event

Having just completed Manchester’s first ever lunchtime league, Soccer in the City have hungry eyes for expansion.

“We’re just about to start our second lunchtime leagues with more teams on board,” Ahmed says. “But we’re hoping to emulate what I saw in London, up to sixty teams in Manchester spread across six leagues with games every lunchtime. Promotions, relegations, cup competitions – that’s our goal.”

But it’s not just about the office lunchtime traffic. Manchester’s bars and restaurants have jumped in too, while Soccer in the City’s corporate 5-a-side events are proving to be a popular alternative choice.

“It’s not just the lunchtime leagues we’re pushing here,” Ahmed explains. “We want people to know that if they’re interested in getting involved or setting up a league we’re open to ideas.

“We’ve got a bars and restaurants league starting on Sunday nights with teams from TigerTiger, Terrace, The Wharf, Neighbourhood and Montpelliers – that’s going to be massive. We've got women's teams interested, even StreetCars have come to me and said they’d like a league for the drivers. If you can get the teams together we’ll organise it for you.

Corporate events have proved hugely popularCorporate events have proved hugely popular

“The corporate events part of our package has proved really popular too,” Ahmed continues, “Invite a bunch of current or potential clients down to the venue, involve a charity and we’ll run the whole thing. The entire venue is all yours to dress up and do with as you please. The Lowry made the place look like a wedding for their corporate competition.

"These events usually start at 2pm. We'll stage a knock-out competition, referee the games, film the action, serve at the bar, even provide the food if you need it. The games usually draw to a close around 5pm to 6pm when we'll do presentations and prizes. You can even watch the games back on the big screen while having a pint and laughing at someone missing a sitter or taking one in the crotch - people love that."

For more information visit soccerinthecity.com, call 0161 834 3295 or email info@soccerinthecity.com.

Soccer in the City, Unit 3 Industrial Estate, Water Street, Castlefield, Manchester, M3 4JW.

This article was produced in line with Soccer in the City.

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MikeMay 28th 2014.

A great idea, best of luck to them

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