As the Women’s World Cup kicks off, we shine a light on London's Women's football scene, which is about so much more than sport
More fitness-phobe than fitness fanatic? Don’t panic. London’s home to more community sports clubs than you can shake a mud-covered hockey stick at. So whether you’re looking to combine crunches with good deeds, make new friends in this big ol’ city or burn calories at the same time as burning up the dance floor, our guide to London’s community sports clubs has genuinely got something for everyone. And if you’re in search of some friends to pound the tarmac with, check out London’s really great running clubs. Let’s get sweaty...
1. Poly Netball Club
Haven’t put on a wing defence bib since school? Reignite an old flame at Poly Netball Club, the world’s longest running club for the sport. Established in 1907, it holds two-hour training sessions on Wednesday evenings. Perfect your pivots and get your overhead throws down pat. Look out for trials for new players for the 2019-20 season.
Kensington Leisure Centre. Tube: Latimer Rd. www.polynetball.com
2. London Community Boxing
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee with the help of London Community Boxing. Using the sport as a pathway to a healthier community, this charity welcomes all ages, bodies and abilities, because everyone deserves to know how to throw a proper right hook.
Units 3 and 4, Bellenden Rd Business Centre. Train: Peckham Rye Overground. Full adult membership £40 a month. www.londoncommunityboxing.co.uk
3. Kew Park Rangers
Bend it like Beckham with Kew Park Rangers, who prove that football should be for absolutely everyone. The club runs teams for all levels, ages and abilities – from kids to veterans, with a strong disabled squad too. All disabled Londoners are invited to the weekly kickabouts.
Richmond Park Academy. Train: Mortlake rail. www.kewparkrangers.co.uk/disability-football.
4. Safe Haven
West London basketball collective Safe Haven offers a friendly space for young people with learning disabilities to get together for hour-long training sessions with a friendly vibe. With professional coaches and a buddy system, the crew makes sure everyone is able to get stuck in and shoot some hoops.
Little Venice Sports Centre. Tube: Edgware Rd. £4 per session, plus £10 membership per term.
5. Waltham Forest Flyerz
Waltham Forest Flyerz is a disability-inclusive hockey club offering free equipment, training sessions and matches, often with the support of the England team. A collaboration with Access Sport, hockey has been adapted for all ability levels so nobody misses out. Plus, the Waltham Forest team is just one of a number of Flyerz meet-ups, so you can find one near you.
Walthamstow Academy. Train: Highams Park Overground. www.walthamforesthc.co.uk/forest-flyerz. Free.
How do you squeeze volunteering and getting fit into your schedule? Do both at the same time with GoodGym. The group combines local runs with do-good stop-offs. Help isolated older people, grow plants in community gardens and sort cans for a food bank – all while getting fit.
www.goodgym.org. Membership is an optional £9.95 per month.
7. Mental Health Mates
Running not your thing? Nothing clears your mind like some fresh air and a good walk. Mental Health Mates provides a safe environment for people to walk and talk, judgment-free. It’s run by people who have mental health issues, but you don’t have to be diagnosed to come along on one of the volunteer-led strolls around London. Upcoming walks are in Richmond, Chingford and Hampstead Heath.
Best for older people
8. Silver Fit
Forget London’s fancy members’ spots, the coolest club in town costs just £12 to join. That’s the membership price for Silver Fit, an exercise community for London’s more senior residents which runs everything from yoga to cheerleading sessions at venues across eight London boroughs.
Multiple venues. £12 membership per year. www.silverfit.org.uk.
Fancy a dance? Become a member of Spinoff, the over-55s section of the Green Candle Dance company. The super-social group’s new term starts in September. Join now to get the chance to learn creative choreography at weekly training sessions that build to (voluntary) big shows at the end of term. It’s even free for local residents from Tower Hamlets. Get your dancing shoes on!
Dance Studio at Oxford House. Tube: Bethnal Green. £15 membership per term.
10. Fly Girl Collective
Running doesn’t have to be a painful, solo activity. Fly Girl Collective is helping BAME women get into running and improve their fitness through training, group encouragement and brunch runs. (Finish up at Mae J’s Cafe in Peckham Palms with a 3-5km run in between.) There’s nothing like having friends cheer you on (and avo on toast) to get you off the sofa.
www.flygirlcollective.co. Brunch runs Jun 15, Jun 29, Jul 20, Jul 27. From £5. New membership season starts Jun 23. £45 for 12 weeks.
11. Ladies Who Lift
Do you even lift, sis? If you’re a woman who wants to try weights but you find your regular gym a little intimidating, Ladies Who Lift is the perfect place to safely learn how to get started. The coaching group is London’s longest-running women’s club and has classes for all levels – all taught by female instructors.
www.strengthambassadors.com/ladies-who-lift. £9 trial class, £139 unlimited monthly membership.
12. London Ladies Climb
Climbing becomes an Olympic sport in 2020, and it seems loads of us are on board with its rise. (There were more than a million visits to walls in the UK in 2017.) Keen to don a harness? Whether you’re a climbing pro or a total novice, London Ladies Climb is open to all women and offers a super-supportive environment.
13. Hackney Gazelles Womxn’s Basketball Collective
Always fantasised about learning how to slam-dunk? Now you can get some shots in with a crew of creative women. Hackney Gazelles Womxn’s Basketball Collective got together back in 2015 and aim to improve the relationship between women, non-binary people and sport. Get down to the east London training sessions and unleash your inner Michael Jordan with a friendly, diverse crew.
Best for beginners
14. Terrible Football
The clue is in the name. It’s a series of casual kickabouts where you won’t be judged for an own goal or not knowing the offside rule. It’s all about taking part. The doors to its relaxed games on Clapham Common, Tooting Common and Weavers Fields are open to everyone.
Email: email@example.com. Free.
Take a scenic cycle around Victoria Park with a crew of friendly pedallers. Bikeworks offers accessible 20-minute canters around the park in a group that’s open to all abilities. It has adapted models – such as tandem tricycles and side-by-side bikes – so everyone can get pedalling. It’s more about having a good time than racing in Lycra (although you can sport your cycle shorts if you want).
Little Wormwood Scrubs, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Victoria Park. Find a session at
www.bikeworks.org.uk. Free (donation welcome).
16. London Otters Rowing Club
Heave-ho! Grow your guns as a member of LGBT+ friendly London Otters Rowing Club. Open to all genders and sexualities, the group values sportsmanship, teamwork and having fun. It runs beginners’ classes, training sessions and participatory races, as well as British Rowing events. Go on, give Oxbridge a run for their money.
Royal Docks. Tube: Canning Town. www.londonotters.org.
17. Sibling London
It’s never too late to live out your sk8r dreams. Sibling London is a rad cooperative focused on LGBT+ people of colour, womxn, trans and non-binary folk. It has monthly meet-ups in different locations and is ideal if you want to learn how to ollie in a supportive group away from the pros on the South Bank.
18. Graces Cricket
Forget what you thought you knew about cricket. Graces Cricket is the opposite of an old boys’ club. The world’s first LGBT+ cricket club is a safe space that’s very much open to all abilities, genders and sexualities. Games usually start at 2pm and finish at 7pm, with a mandatory tea break. And you don’t have to be part of the LGBT+ community to join in.
www.gracescricket.org.uk. £60 annual playing membership, £30 non-playing.
Unusual sports teams
19. London GD Handball Club
Is it backwards football? Or weird basketball? Find out what Olympic sport handball is all about and how to play it at one of our city’s oldest and most successful clubs, London GD Handball Club. Both the men’s and women’s teams have won the English League and National Cup. Don’t be intimidated, though: there are beginner sessions.
Copper Box Arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Tube: Stratford. www.londongdhandball.co.uk.
20. London Unspeakables Quidditch Club
Always wanted to catch the golden snitch? London Unspeakables Quidditch Club is making Londoners’ wizarding dreams come true with regular open sessions where you can learn the official full-contact sport from Harry Potter. Okay, your Nimbus 2000 might not actually levitate, but it’s great fun with good company.
If netball and basketball collided you’d be left with korfball: the world’s only fully mixed-gender sport. More than 60 korfball-heads hit up central London club Supernova’s training sessions and play on its five teams. You can join them for regular non-member training sessions at the Castle Leisure Centre in south-east London – and, of course, regular post-training pub sessions, too.
Castle Leisure Centre. Tube: Elephant & Castle. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Richard Brooks, Jack Latimer, Tom Miles, Simon Parker, Andy Parsons, Ollie Trenchard.