It has been a tough 18 months for all of us as we have been asked to stay at home where possible and forego a lot of the things that we love doing. It’s no surprise then that a number of charities in the UK have recently published reports showing that the levels of loneliness in the country are on the rise.
If, like many others in the country, you’re slowly emerging from lockdown after lockdown and are looking for a way to boost your social life, sports could be the answer.
Not only are the physical benefits of sport proven to boost your mental health, but by joining an organised team you’ll make new friends and expand your social circle.
In this article, we take a look at some of the various team sports in the UK and describe the ways in which they can help you improve your social life.
There is no other sport on the planet that can shine a light on the popularity of football, as you will most likely have noticed during the recent European Championships. There is perhaps no other sport out there that can boost your social life as much as football either.
Firstly, if you have an interest in football and watch it regularly you have a guaranteed topic of discussion with many of the people you meet. In the workplace, at the shops or on buses and trains, you’ll always find people discussing the latest transfers, Premier League odds and transfer speculation.
In joining an organised 11-a-side team you will also significantly broaden your social horizons. Most clubs have at least two teams, so there will be no shortage of people to talk to and interact with at weekly training sessions and games.
In addition to that, amateur football clubs usually have strong bonds with the local community so you can use those links to reach out and meet even more people. On the pitch, you’ll also develop a real sense of camaraderie with your teammates as you take on opposition teams, dodgy referees and torn up pitches!
If you stay at the same club for a couple of years, you’ll likely end up making friendships for life and have a real sense of belonging.
(When it’s not bucketing it down with rain, amateur football can be brightened by moments of genuine quality and some hilarity.)
The recent T20 Series between England and Pakistan has highlighted the wave of popularity that the sport is currently enjoying. According to industry research, cricket is now the second most popular sport in the UK so it’s the perfect time to get involved!
What makes cricket all the more accessible is the relative lack of seriousness in the amateur game. If you join a local football team you’ll spend four hours a week running and doing drills before playing for two hours at the weekend.
If you join a village cricket team you can get away with going to a couple of laid-back training sessions a month and turning up to games with a hangover! What makes village cricket more appealing than most amateur sports is the way that it brings together various cultures and age groups.
You could be going in to bat with someone who grew up with aspirations of going pro in Australia or India. Likewise, your spin bowler could be someone 10 years older than your Dad! If you want to play an amateur sport that prioritises fun and camaraderie above all else, village cricket is the sport for you!
(You won’t be short of a few laughs if you join a village cricket team.)
Technically golf is an individual sport unless you’re playing in an organised team play tournament. That said though, it is a sport that is relatively rarely played on an individual basis and is best enjoyed with friends.
If life is beginning to get in the way of your social life, you should definitely think about picking up golf with your friends. You’ll need a couple of lessons first which should help you to branch out and meet similarly inexperienced players.
Once you’re confident enough to complete a round, join a club with your friends and make a point of meeting up once a week for a round of golf. A typical round takes around 4 hours to complete and afterwards you head to the clubhouse for some food and drinks with your pals.
It really is a great way to remain social, especially as you get older and life gets in the way of those impulsive nights out!
If any of the sports mentioned above seem too strenuous for you, what about a sport that you can play whilst drinking a beer?
First played in the 1860s, darts has gone on to become one of the most popular pastimes in Britain thanks to its close link to that old British staple – the pub.
If you want to play at the very top level you’ll need to dedicate a lot of time to practice, but if you want to enjoy darts for the social aspect there’s no need to spend hours and hours practicing.
Most pubs in the UK have their own darts teams that play home and away fixtures in league tournaments. If you get involved it’s not only a great way of making friends in your local but you’ll also be able to branch out and meet new people every other week.
If you have any stories about how sports have helped to broaden your social horizons be sure to let us know in the comments section below!