Belgium Unlocked

Where to play football in Brussels

Where to play football in Brussels
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne celebrates after scoring against Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Credit: Bruno Fahy/Belga

Has the mere thought of Kevin De Bruyne striking a football left you itching to get your boots on? Has Holland's new brand of 'sexy football' stimulated your own footy aspirations? Or has Qatar's atrocious human rights record turned you off this year's World Cup and prompted you to get off the sofa and onto the pitch yourself?

If your answer to any of these questions is 'yes', then this is the guide for you!

With the World Cup now fully underway and Belgium's opening match just around the corner, The Brussels Times presents its suggestions on where to play the beautiful game in and around Europe's capital city.

11-a-side leagues

ABSSA

A collection of leagues originally established more than 50 years ago, ABSSA features numerous (semi-)prestigious expat clubs including British United FC, Portugal FC, Hellas Berchem, LXG 50ennaire, FC Irelande and Royal Brussels British FC. This author can vouch for the former team and unreservedly recommends getting in touch if you're intrested.

Match days: Saturday.

Training: Typically midweek.

Registration/ID Checks: To play you must be fully registered and show your ID before each game.

Interested? Use the telephone numbers and email addresses posted for each team on the league's website.

Brussels Euroleague

Strictly speaking, this is the official European Parliament league although numerous players have little, if any, actual parliamentary affiliation. At least 50% of the players for each of the 18 'national' teams must be actual citizens of the relevant country. The league features a Turkish team as well as an apparently reunified Czechoslovakia.

Match days: Varied.

Training: Typically never.

Registration/ID Checks: No registration required.

Interested? See the league's contact form on its website.

5/6-a-side leagues

HEBE League

A mixed 6-a-side league where female goals count for double and teams must have a minimum of one male and one female player on the pitch at all times. Teams can register twice a year and must feature at least ten players with a minimum of two men and two women. The €800 team fee may sound steep but covers all pitch bookings, referees and logistics.

Match days: Sunday.

Training: Team-dependent.

Registration/ID Checks: Registration is required but there are no regular ID checks.

Interested? To register a team see the league's official registration form. For general enquiries, email hebe.league@gmail.com. Joining a team as an individual might be tricky but try getting in touch with one of the team captains.

Brussels Bright Ladies League

Known to be very fun, this 100% female football league has a sister competition registered in Liège. Although there are no official expat clubs, many non-Belgians are scattered among the various teams (e.g. this team is comprised of English, Scottish, Spanish and French players).

Match days: Varied

Training: Team-dependent.

Registration/ID Checks: None stated.

Interested? To register a team, use the league's official registration form. Alternatively, email the organisers at hello@www.bbfl.be.

Liefhebbers Zaalvoetbal Cup

A collection of 5-a-side football leagues which this author has played in for many years and is especially convenient for those living in the Flemish suburbs of Brussels. Registration costs €297, which unfortunately doesn't include bookings of the sports hall where you play your home matches (and which must be booked separately).

Match days: Home games tend to be held on the day of your own choosing; away game days are varied.

Training: Typically never.

Registration/ID Checks: Never.

Interested? Email krisverbert@gmail.com.

Regular kickabouts

Many expats organise regular 5- or 6-a-side games in and around Brussels. Here's the Facebook page of one recommended regular footy session that is welcoming to everyone.

Throughout the year (especially during the summer months) 5-a-side 'pick-up' matches at pitches around Brussels are a regular occurrence. The author particularly recommends getting a few friends together and turning up at the pitches at Cinquantenaire Park, where games are usually conducted at a fairly high standard.

In case you don't know anyone keen to play, you needn't worry — teams are often a player or two short.

Health insurance

Many of Belgium's health insurers will (partly) reimburse the registration cost of sports clubs. Check with your insurer to see how much you may be entitled to.

Any football-related suggestions that deserve a mention? Send an email to t.moller@brusselstimes.com and we'll update the page.

The author would like to thank the following people who helped him compile this article: Alex Shearman, Ruairi Topping, Richard Smith, Mathias Vanlishout, and, especially, David 'Fitzy' Fitzgerald.


More from Belgium Unlocked

Copyright © 2021 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.