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We chat with Kos, MD of Footy Addicts – the platform that is changing the way we can all experience the beautiful game.

By Mike Backler

We all want different things from football. For some, it’s to play at as high a level as possible or to enjoy the on- and off-pitch camaraderie of being part of a team. For others, it’s just the chance to blow off some steam and get some exercise. One thing we can all agree upon is that we want the goals and nets up, even-numbered teams and the ball at our feet. Anyone who has tried to arrange a regular kickabout, or get their mates together for a one-off, knows that those things are not easy to achieve. And then there was Footy Addicts.

Twelve cities globally, 170,000 registered players from 209 nationalities, more than 500 games taking place every week and a significant social impact. It’s a platform that allows anyone to sign up, pick a game, turn up and play.

And it truly is for everyone. For those just learning to play, to those using it to keep sharp around their eleven-a-side on the weekend. Whether you’re new to a city, passing through, or whether you call it home. We caught up with Konstantinos Gkortsilas, or “Kos”, to find out all about the platform that gets everyone playing.

“When I first moved to London, there was a lack of visibility on football games played in the city. I could only search for games via Gumtree and that was usually for small-sided league teams looking for extra players. I wanted to enjoy football in a more casual and social way than play a competitive league game.

 “I wanted to enjoy football in a more casual and social way than play a competitive league game”

“I was introduced to, a social website in which you are matched with people in your area who share the same interests with you. Naturally, Footy Addicts first started as a Meetup social group, for people who wanted to play football games. It was the first football-related Meetup group in London back in 2009. I tried to create a similar platform to be dedicated only to football, and in 2012 we created the first version of a web app for Footy Addicts. In 2013 we registered as a limited company and started operating in a more structured format on game organisation.”

Kos continues: “By creating the limited company I was the point of contact for everything. Literally everything, from game organisation, finance, accounts, pitch hire contracts, website development, and the list goes on.”

Two guys that had shared a similar experience were Danny and Jon, who after a placement year and struggling to find accessible football on their travels, had got the wheels in motion on creating a platform where people could find and join casual football games easily, wherever you are, whatever your ability. The three joined forces in 2013.

“A year after the limited company was registered I was lucky enough to have Jonathan and Danny coming on board,” Kos explains. “Being so enthusiastic about the project they were best suited to be out and about with the community, leaving me to deal with all the paperwork!”

And so, the Footy Addicts community grew and grew, while still remaining close-knit. The vibe at games is brilliant. Competitive without ever going over the top. Well organised with hosts having the final say on disputed free-kicks and corner kicks, and ensuring teams are fair and everyone is respectful, without it ever losing its edge. And each and every game has a range of abilities and ethnicities that is brilliant to see.

“Footy Addicts is a fantastic open community,” says Kos. “It has always been and will always be about the community. We are privileged that we have met so many fantastic people. These people make this project a success and are the ones fuelling us to keep going.

“Footy Addicts has always been an all-inclusive project. We want to give pitch space accessibility to everybody. Players of all levels of ability, regardless of age, gender, race, religion or sexuality.”

“Footy Addicts is a fantastic open community. It has always been and will always be about the community”

The platform allows organisers to run their own games, or they can essentially create their own business arranging and hosting games from within. This isn’t without its challenges, though.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is getting other organisers on board by sharing their football sessions. Organising a game takes time, energy and financial risk from the person who is doing it. Making all this effort, the majority of the game organisers have a feeling of ownership for the community they have created. Our approach is different; we believe that people will play football where and when is convenient for them. By providing visibility to all pitch spaces in your area, you give more options to people and encourage them to be more active. It is a win-win situation for the player, the game organiser and the community.”

Growing up in Greece, and living in Spain, Kos is very well placed to give us a fresh perspective on the issues of facilities in the UK.

“In Greece, the majority of the small-sided football facilities are privately owned. This comes with pros and cons. In London, the majority of the pitches are owned by the council which helps to keep the pitch hire cost down, but at the same time the repairs and the pitch quality is not great. Lack of space is a big challenge, especially in London. When it comes to The FA and Football Foundation’s plans for investment, every bit of support for grassroots is welcome.”

So, what’s next for Footy Addicts? And what is Kos most proud of in their journey so far?

“Footy Addicts’ goal is to become the place globally to be for everybody who wants to play football. We want to provide easy access to football games and the benefits that they bring to the community and mental and physical health to everybody.

“I’m most proud of the Footy Addicts team; we have built a team of people who all have the same vision and share the same passion for this project.”

Footy Addicts is open and everyone can join. Just download the app and get involved.

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