A Brief History of 5-a-Side Football
Here at Soccer Gods, we specialise in 6-a-side football leagues, providing teams across the North West to take part in this exciting sport that is consistently growing in popularity throughout the region. 6-a-side football is an offshoot of the more familiar 5-a-side football, a game that has a rich history spanning over a hundred years.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the history of 5-a-side (and, as a result, 6-a-side) football and how it became such a popular pastime worldwide.
Where it all began
Anybody who’s ever had to cancel a game of football because half the team couldn’t be bothered to turn up will be able to resonate with the origins of 5-a-side. In the early years of the 20th century, professional footballers were not paid around the clock. In Uruguay and Argentina, semi-pro players were looking to hone their skills during the off-season months. Since many of their team members were unable to walk away from their day jobs to take part in a training session, the players formed smaller teams and would play informal games against one another on small outdoor courts using a smaller ball. Before long, other South American nations like Brazil and Chile began playing 5-a-side in small, unofficial leagues.
The spread to Europe
Like anything new in football, this technique for allowing off-season play gained popularity not just in South America but around the world. The game was introduced to Europe in the 1950s by South American players who had moved to the continent in order to play professionally. The small-size sport they played in their spare time was noticed by their European team-mates and began gaining popularity. So much so that, by 1965, the world’s first formal 5-a-side football tournament was held in Spain.
Expansion in Asia
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, 5-a-side football was introduced in Japan and Korea as a way for association football teams to improve their short game (notably dribbling and short passes). It soon gained popularity among schools and the general public since a game could be played in smaller spaces with fewer participants. This saw 5-a-side football becoming a popular sport in many Asian countries by the 1990s.
In the Netherlands, 5-a-side football was transformed into an indoor game played on a harder court with a smaller ball. This came to be known as futsal and emphasised skill and ball control instead of physical contact. The FIFA Futsal World Cup was first held in 1989, and the sport gained popularity worldwide into the 1990s and beyond.
Nowadays, 5-a-side football is being challenged by 6-a-side and 7-a-side football for popularity. An extra player or two on each side can dramatically change your tactics and approach to the match. While we wait eagerly for a globally recognised competition, we can console ourselves knowing that the game is going from strength to strength at a local and regional level.
While we wait eagerly for a globally recognised competition, we can console ourselves knowing that the game is going from strength to strength at a local and regional level.
Get in touch
If you’ve put together a 6-a-side football team and are looking for other teams to play against, contact Soccer Gods today. Get in touch to register your interest in joining a local league.