Looking for exercise? Community football club needs members

Copenhagen Celtic’s members are a diverse bunch, boasting over 20 nationalities and some still enjoying footy in the sixth decade of their life

So youÂ’ve just got off the boat or the scales and realised thereÂ’s something missing in your life. Maybe itÂ’s friends and camaraderie: understandable if youÂ’re new to Denmark; a bit harsh if youÂ’re overweight. Or a passion: the Copenhagen ballet scene doesnÂ’t quite do it for you; when is somebody going to open a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts over here? But most likely itÂ’s football – a sport that offers the best exercise known to mankind, pals for life, and hours and hours of fun – and this city has it in abundance. 

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, including those over 40 and 50 – the latter of which is called the super veterans. 

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 clubÂ’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. ItÂ’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 is always interested in added 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 eight 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. 

While it might be too late to enter a whole team for the 2012 season, itÂ’s never too late to join as individuals. Simply turn up to one of the clubÂ’s regular pre-season training sessions on Thursday nights at 7pm at Valby Playing Fields (Julius Andersens Vej 1, next door to Valby Hallen). Listen out for the exchange of English in a multitude of languages, get changed, and make yourself known to one of the coaches – itÂ’s that simple. 

The club operates two serious eleven-a-side teams and two relaxed seven-a-side teams (no age limits), and all four are always keen to add to their numbers. And then there are three more teams for the seniors: eleven-a-side and seven-a-side teams for over-40s players, and a seven-a-side team for the over-50s. 

For those of you not familiar with sevens, itÂ’s a great game. Played over 60 minutes, thereÂ’s no offside, a yellow card warrants a five-minute sin bin, all free-kicks are direct, and there are rotating substitutions, although only ten players can be listed for use on the team sheet. The goals are slightly bigger than hockey ones, and the pitch the same length but slightly narrower than half a normal pitch sideline to sideline. 

The aforementioned DAI organise the pitches, kick-off times and refs. There are around 20 games a season played April to October on weekday evenings, Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning – and the league tables can be accessed via the DAI website. 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. 

Stephen Ball, the treasurer of Copenhagen Celtic, has played sevens since ‘retiring’ from elevens in 2005. “In sevens you’re more involved and it’s easier to get a team to get together,” he enthuses.

And itÂ’s worth pointing out that outside the DAIÂ’s eleven-a-side top division, they donÂ’t have linesmen, which means lots of dodgy offside decisions. 

The club operates two Facebook pages (one is specifically about training and invite only), a website (copenhagencelticfc.intheteam.com), and prospective members are welcome to contact copenhagenceltic@hotmail.com to find out more information.