Looking to get fit and healthy playing one of the world’s most popular sports?
Ultimate Soccer will be launching its state-of-the-art soccer facilities, that will bring the 5-a-side experience from the UK to Australia. Supported by the Football Federation of Australia and ex-Socceroo Brett Emerton, its flagship location is right in the heart of Fairfield, Western Sydney.
SHESAID chats with CEO of Ulimate Soccer, Emir Mani about the benefits of soccer, how to book your own pitch, and how the idea of Ultimate Soccer was initially created.
How did the idea for Ultimate Soccer first come about?
The inspiration for Ultimate Soccer emerged from a number of different thoughts I was having about 5 years aIntroducing go.
The first thought was ‘how am I going to evolve my music marketing business (that was fairly successful) with the advent of iTunes, Spotify and other digital offerings’?
My second thought was to move into a business area I am passionate about and love…
My third was a decent ‘brick and mortar’ business would combat investing into a new digital concept that could become obsolete a day, week, month later.
My fourth and final thought was the business idea and replicating the hugely successful UK 5 a-side football business model here in Australia. The reason it has been so popular is that the floodlighting, shorter game times and small team numbers make it more accessible and convenient for busy people that do not have the time to exercise due to work and family commitments.
The issue for me was not so much the about reinventing a brand new concept here in Australia. It was more about the right approach in terms of how do I raise $4m to build this thing, how will Australians respond to this new concept, will there be demand, how will I get the land etc.
Why do you think soccer has become such a much-loved, world game especially for women?
It is the most popular sport among both boys and girls at school (according to the ABS) so kids are familiar with the game and playing from an early age which helps.
It is a non-contact sport relative to rugby league/union and AFL and promotes good values, in terms of teamwork, discipline and skill development. This is important to parents to want to keep their kids active in a positive playing environment. The fact that it’s a very enjoyable game contributes to the popularity.
Why is it popular specifically with women, this is a tough one – it could be a number of factors including the success of the Matildas in the previous World and Asian Cups, it could be that Australia is a sports nation and women are not hung up with it being perceived as a male game which obviously it isn’t. Due to the popularity of the female game, accessibility to women’s football’s team could also be a reason. It is worth noting that there are more registered female football participants in Australia than in England, which is pretty amazing considering the difference in populations.
Who can partake in Ultimate Soccer, is there a specific age group or target?
At Ultimate Soccer we aim to appeal and to be accessible to men, women, over 35’s and kids across beginner, intermediate and advanced levels for league competitions. We wanted to ensure that we created an environment were people wanted to participate in the game regardless of age, gender or cultural backgrounds.
How important was it to hold the first flagship facility in Fairfield?
Pretty important…we knew that just half of all Australian people that play football occasionally and regularly resided in NSW with a heavy focus on Sydney (Roy Morgan). We just needed to find the perfect location within Sydney. Ideally it had to be in the home of football where demand would be strong and that be amongst the Western Sydney football community. It needed to have good transport links and be visible from adjacent main roads. Fairfield High School was particularly receptive and excited about the opportunity of getting a $4million facility and this made a big difference to our decision.
Are the fields open for training, or just a casual game with mates or work colleagues?
We offer one-hour pitch bookings for friends to play amongst themselves in a friendly environment or for local football teams to train, so you’re able to enjoy Ultimate Soccer in a casual or competitive capacity.
In addition, we offer one-day corporate events for team building exercises and for companies adjoined to a particular industry and adult bubble soccer for bucks and hens parties at weekends.
We have kids coaching, kids parties and kids bubble soccer. So there’s definitely something for everyone!
What type of health benefits does a simple game of soccer offer?
The high intensity nature of 5-a-side soccer ensures a quality cardiovascular and muscular workout. The game will build long-term fitness, burns fat, lowers cholesterol and reduces blood pressure. Professor peter Krustrup from the University of Copenhagen said, “Playing 5 a side football is healthier than running or lifting weights. The intensity and range of movements involved in the game, including kicks, twists, turns and sprints, provide better overall exercise, according to a series of studies. And five-a-side is more beneficial than a full-scale game, as it ensures that all players get a vigorous workout.” So its health benefits have even been scientifically proven.
What’s next for Ultimate Soccer? Do you have any plans to open pitches in other locations?
Yes we certainly do. The company objective is to launch a further 10 sites in the next 10 years. We have a pipeline of 4 other sites and will be monitoring the first site in Fairfield closely before activating a full-scale expansion strategy.
For more information or to book your own pitch, visit: www.ultimatesoccer.com.au