Copenhageners prefer playing football to watching it. The participation rate among men is miles higher than countries like Britain where pitifully low numbers play the sport once they reach their 30s. In contrast, the Østerbro-based Dansk Arbejder Idrætsforbund (DAI), just one of several amateur football bodies in the city, offers league football (both seven and eleven-a-side) for all ages, be it seniors (over-18s), old boys (over-33s), veterans (over-40s), super vets (over-45s) or masters (over-50s).
One club that operates teams at all of these levels is Copenhagen Celtic, which just like its namesake was founded by Irish immigrants (in the 1980s, not the 1880s) and prides itself on its international inclusiveness. Its members represent a vast range of nationalities, ages and abilities – many have been involved since the club’s foundation in 1982 and regularly meet off the pitch for social events like their summer party and barbecue, FA Cup Final quiz and end-of-season party. It’s not an understatement to say that for many the club is an integral part of their lives and one of the biggest factors in determining their decision to carry on living in Denmark.
The club has grown in stature over the past few years, partly down to the success of the senior eleven-man A team. Having gone unbeaten for the entire season of 2011, the Celtics won the A Division and were promoted to the Mesterrækken. This was followed by another successful year in 2012. While nothing was added to the trophy cabinet, they finished third, the club’s highest ever placing, and a narrow defeat in the semi-final was an indication of how hard the team had trained all year.
“This was my first full year with the Celtics, and what a great year it was!” enthused Cian O’Callaghan, an Irishman who moved to Denmark in 2011 and this season has been appointed the new assistant coach of the A team.
“I moved to Copenhagen back in September 2011 and decided to look for a football club to play for, not only to feed my addiction for the beautiful game but to hopefully find a social base, a group with similar interests to me of football, beer and more football … and that I did. From the first match that I played, I was made to feel welcome by the lads, on and off the pitch. I was very surprised by the huge variety of nationalities within one club; the ease of conversing with other players who were in a very similar position to me made settling into my new life in Copenhagen very easy, and for that I will forever be grateful to this club.”
The club is always interested in adding to its 100-strong membership – and even welcomes whole teams to join its umbrella. One such team, a group of people who met at Studieskole in late 2003, joined in 2004 and is still going strong nearly ten years later, playing seven-a-side football as the 7s Bs. While there is no ladies team at present, the club would be delighted to welcome an entire team to their ranks.
But while it might be too late to enter a whole team for the 2013 season, it’s never too late to join as individuals. Simply turn up to one of the club’s regular pre-season training sessions on Thursday nights at 7pm at Valby Playing Fields (Julius Andersens Vej 1, next door to Valby Hallen), specifically on pitch number 4 (astroturf by the new swimming pool). Listen out for the exchange of English in a multitude of languages, get changed, and make yourself known to one of the coaches – it’s that simple.
“Pre-season training for the 2013 leagues began a few months ago, and we have been delighted by the turnout so far from established club players and new players. We welcome everyone!” continues O’Callaghan.
“If you can relate to my story, then don’t hesitate to contact us via our contact details, or better yet, stop by training and get involved!”
The club operates eight sides in total: two seniors eleven-a-side teams, two seniors seven-a-side teams, one veterans eleven-a-side team, one veterans seven-a-side team, one super vets seven-a-side team and one masters seven-a-side team. There are around 20 games a season played April to October on weekday evenings, Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. There is a summer break from late June to mid-August, but this still means that most of the games are played in warm conditions.
The new season starts the weekend after Easter, so there is still time to get in shape! Join a training session on Thursday nights at 7pm at Valby Playing Fields (see details in story). For more information, consult the club’s Facebook page (search for ‘training copenhagen celtic’), efootballclub portal or website.