Find the best sports club for your kids, right on your doorstep.
Sport is a great way for your children to let off steam, socialise and nurture many skills. London offers a plethora of options when it comes to sports clubs, but how can you know which is the best? We’ve picked out our top four, across four different sports, to help you narrow it down and find the perfect sports club in your community. Find out more on each club’s website.
Battersea Ironsides is renowned for its terrific Rugby and social spirit. There is nothing cliquey about this club and everyone is welcome irrespective of background or ability. Located in Earlsfield in South West London, it is now one of the largest clubs in London. The Ironsides offer mini, youth and senior membership. The club maintains a healthy ethos: having fun is equally as important as results. That said, the junior section (which runs from under 5s to under 18s) often excels against the opposition, competing against the very best of the Surrey clubs. Girls are genuinely encouraged to play. Currently, there are under 13 and 15 girls’ teams. A lively and sociable side-line for parents is guaranteed!
Broomwood FC is a thriving community football club founded in 1988 and based in Wandsworth Common (South West London). Unlike its uber-selective rivals, Broomwood’s priority is to offer every child the chance to play football, develop skills and friendships. Age-groups range from Reception to Year 12, with 18 teams competing in the London County Saturday Youth Football League, including plenty of girls’ teams. The club has charity status and is run entirely by parents, with everyone encouraged to participate from setting up cones and goals through coaching and helping at the many social events. Reticent newcomers can be assured of a warm welcome.
Herne Hill Harriers is an amateur athletics sports club based at Tooting Bec Athletics Track in South London. A very well organised and diverse club who regularly feature in the medals. With access to outstanding facilities, the club has a great junior for all levels offering coaching, training and competitions in all track and field events, road running, cross-country, indoor athletics and sports hall. A very enthusiastic coaching team trains athletes from the age of 11, with The Star-Track Summer Training for younger children. A nurturing environment that will encourage your child to get active, try new things and develop a competitive spirit.
One of London’s secret sporting locations is the famous London Velodrome in Herne Hill. Tucked away in a green and tranquil setting, the impressive track and facilities have long been a favourite with school-age children, amateur cyclists and Londoners generally. With a lockdown-generated love of cycling, youngsters can safely learn new cycling skills and under 16s have the use of a hire track bike free of charge. A lively cycling community where both spectators and riders can enjoy a full season of exciting track racing and special events, including the international Good Friday meeting.
Wayfarers junior hockey programme only started in 2010 and already boasts 950 players and the accolade of being the fastest-growing junior club in the country. With a philosophy of ‘hockey for all’ firmly entrenched at the club, they hold an amazing number of training sessions, fixtures and tournaments arranged by an army of volunteer parents. This feat is even more impressive because the club doesn’t have its own site or clubhouse and makes use of all the local pitches they can muster. Kids can join at any age and progress through skills squads. At performance level, the club sends more and more children to Surrey trials each year and their success now matches and sometimes surpasses the well-established behemoths in the area. Wayfarers have made a huge effort to keep offering hockey to children during the pandemic and has gone to great lengths to keep the sessions going whenever possible. Given the current strict lockdown, they have excelled themselves by creating online hockey sessions for each age group to engage the juniors and keep them as mentally and physically fit as possible in the circumstances.
Leander swim club was founded in 1949, based at Balham Baths, as a combined water polo and swimming club. It was originally intended to be a men-only club, but with a lot of persistence from female would-be members, the committee relented, and it became a mixed club.
Nowadays the club is a popular local institution, boasting consistent success at Regional and County level and a waiting list that reflects this. Leander runs an Academy for young swimmers between the ages of 6 and 10 who can swim at least 15m of good front crawl and backstroke, without support, in the deep end. Realistically children need to be stronger swimmers than this suggests to get in, given the number of children who regularly try out. Once children are about 10, they will need to be fast and strong enough to make it into the Leander Bronze squad or they might find their Leander career rapidly comes to an end! A great club, but one for kids who have oodles of commitment and want to compete.
The Spencer Club boasts a great heritage in South London and fantastic facilities to match. The pitches and the clubhouse are most pleasant, and parents seem to enjoy a lazy summer Sundays watching their children learn to play Cricket as much as the children do. Parents also sign up in droves for the holiday camps on offer. The club also offers Tennis, Hockey, Lacrosse, Netball and Squash on site.
The junior cricket section was formed in 1991 and has grown each year since then. With more than 900 members, it is one of the largest junior sections in the country turning out teams in every age group from the U8s through to the Academy squad.
There is something for every ability in the Junior club and lots of friendly fixtures as well as regular competitive opportunities for the League players. The club also has a good track record at preparing juniors for Surrey trials. Local parents are particularly impressed with the growth of the girls’ teams and how much effort has been made by the club to attract more girls to play and enjoy Cricket.