Top 5 Concerns Everyone Has When Organizing A Pickup Game

Our answers to questions like: Will people join?

From no ball to no shows, we have experienced every fear that game organizers face. Here are our solutions so that you and every footballer can play more.

1. Which field do I choose? Will it be taken when I get there?

Advice: Do 5 minutes of “field research” in advance or ask us.

Look at a map that shows your neighbourhood, and choose a park that is large enough to host a soccer game. If you are unsure about the availability of the field, find a spot where there are nearby backup fields (or seriously, ask us)!

Google’s satellite images are very helpful to determine amount of green space and types of fields.

Here’s a few stories from other organizers who were prepared with backup fields:

On the morning of the Champion’s League Game, James and Kaylin tried hosting a game at Regent Park Athletic Grounds, and the beautiful turf was occupied. No biggie, they knew there was nearby green space a few blocks north (see: Regent Park Aquatic Centre). They brought the group there and had a fantastic game!

The first time Juan Diego ever organized a game on his own, he had to migrate a group of 20 players from UofT back campus fields to Christie Pits on a Saturday morning! All 20 players followed, whether they took the TTC, bike rode, cabbed, or jogged there.

Alicia goes to back campus fields, knowing that the front campus grass is usually free if the back campus is being used. She feels confident knowing there are backup fields nearby.

Bottom line: When people are committed to playing, they will travel to get the game in! Check out this guide for some popular nearby fields.

2. Not enough people are joining my game!

Advice: Be patient but proactive.

After you’ve created a game and sent invites to local players through the app, do not be worried if people don’t join your game right away. Last week, the roster for my Friday morning pickup game went from 11 attendees to 17 over night!!

Also make sure the location and time of your game is convenient. For example, players know that on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the summer, it’s going to be very hot and possibly in the way of other weekend plans, whereas Saturday morning games are cooler and allow time to “enjoy the rest of the day”.

Tips:

  • We know that a lot of players will join if they see your game is filling up. If you have any friends that want to come, invite them first, to start to gain attendees faster.
  • If players are not responsive to game invites, try to personalize your messages. Adding a personal touch motivates people to come.
  • Have you double checked your game description? Add lots of details!!! Check out these 4 best game descriptions and you might get a better turn out!
Morning games are loved in the Toronto soccer community!

3. Should I cancel my game?

Advice: Don’t cancel until 12 hours before the game.

You should have at least 8 players for a 4v4 pickup soccer game. However, anything between 5v5 and 8v8 is ideal!

If I’m not reaching those numbers, what do I do?

If at least 8-10 players don’t join by the night before the game, it is fair to cancel the game and send a message to all the current attendees, briefly explaining that not enough players joined, and asking which other days suit most people, so you can reschedule.

What about if the weather is bad?

If you are certain the weather is poor (pouring rain, lightening), it is courteous to cancel a game 2 hours before it starts, to give players enough warning so that they do not start travelling to your game.

How many people usually don’t show up to games?

You can expect about a 20% no-show rate. This means if you have 10 attendees, 2 may not show, and you can likely expect 8 players.

Tip: A few hours before a game, send a message to players to confirm they are still coming by asking them to kindly cancel if they can no longer come.

Rain does not stop most players, but take proper care if there is a storm.

4. I don’t have equipment.

Advice: All you need is a ball.

You can ask someone to bring a ball, and use players’ bags to make the nets! You can even use four of their bags to make a field perimeter, otherwise, bring a few cones.

4 1/2. It seems difficult to sort teams.

Advice: No pinnies? No problem.

Send a message before the game, telling players to bring a white and black jersey (and maybe red, if you anticipate a large turn out).

Before the game starts, create two equal teams, by sorting the players by jersey colour (i.e., black jerseys against all; or white jerseys against coloured jerseys).

5. What if too many people show up for my game?

Advice: Use subs or create a third team

If you create a third team consider this format: Each game lasts 8 minutes, and the winner stays on for a maximum of two games.

Subbing at Christie Pits!

That’s it!

The OpenSports App will take care of the rest — it will remind people of your game, allow you to send instant messages to all attendees, and allow you to make edits to the game which everyone can see!

Tip: If you keep organizing games you will build ratings through the app and a reputation as a really credible game organizer in your city. When that happens, players will be flocking to your games. Just watch…


Quick Guidelines:

Best games times:

Weekdays: 9am & 7pm

Weekends: 10am

Tip: Set aside 2 hours for games, and arrive at least 15 minutes early to make sure the field is not occupied.

Best game locations (according to what’s usually free):

Weekday Mornings: UofT Back Campus Turf Fields, or front campus grass

Evenings: Christie Pits (note: there are no lights, so play when there is still sunlight)

Weekends: Riverdale Park, Trinity Bellwoods Park, Regent Park


We’ve been doing this for over a year now, and are more than happy to use our experience to answer any questions you have! Please shout out to alicia@opensports.ca if you need any help putting a game together, and don’t forget to embed your games into your website (if you have one!) using this widget. Good luck!

Alicia & The OpenSports Team