The owner of a new Salford six-a-side football league is hoping to improve mental and physical health by introducing the initiative in Irlam.
Operator Luke Smith recruits teams and players to join the league and sets up the venues, which include flood-lit pitches and FA-qualified referees.
Luke said: “I decided to start this venture during lockdown last year when I was discussing with friends where we could join a league ourselves.
“After finding our options locally were limited, I decided to start one myself.”
Gyms and leisure centres and non-essential shops were forced to close in England last November and again in January 2021.
He added: “With everyone in lockdown my main objective was to get people out and socialising whilst getting fit as soon as possible. With leisure facilities closed and reduced social contact I knew people’s physical and mental health would take a hit so we have hit the ground running as soon as we could and started two leagues.”
The new Irlam league began on Wednesday May 12 at Irlam and Cadishead Academy, adding to Luke’s first venture under the Leisure League banner in Urmston.
Six-a-side football is particularly beneficial as players are never far from the action and the focus of the game turns to the core principles of football
Luke said: “Our games are 40 minutes long so it is ideal for those with busy schedules. Also it’s a lot easier to get a few mates and start a team as opposed to 11-a-side. Small sided football is actually more popular than 11-a-side now at grassroots level.”
The league is for those aged 16 and above.
Luke added: “We have teams of 16-18 year olds and also a team of 40+ teachers. It’s all good fun and on our smaller pitches for 40 minutes anything can happen.
“The atmosphere and banter between teams of all ages has been great to see after lockdown.”
Luke is hoping to create a cup competition to combine the two sets of teams and ignite some friendly rivalry between Irlam and Urmston.
The league also makes donations to charities such as Cancer Research and Dogs Trust.
People can join the new Salford six-a-side league by visiting www.leisureleagues.net and entering their postcode to find their local leagues.
@leisureleaguesurmstonirlam is the official Instagram page.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for any enquiries.