What is 5-a-side football

Even though many of you already get the idea, our very first blog post explains what 5-a-side football is all about. While this will be useful for new entrants into the game or those looking to understand it, surely, even those already into 5-a-side can find some of the information here useful.

Definition of 5-a-side football

Simply, 5-a-side football refers to the version of football that is played by teams of five players instead of the usual teams of eleven players. In the case of 5-a-side football, you typically have one goalkeeper and four outfield players. 5-a-side football is generally played outdoors on a pitch smaller than the 11-a-side football pitch (with smaller goal posts too).

5-a-side vs Futsal

However, it is important to note that there is a version of 5-a-side football known as Futsal. Futsal is similar to 5-a-side football but is played on a hard court (like a basketball court surface), mainly indoors, and is an association football game regulated by FIFA.

Other small-sided football

There are other versions of what is often referred to as “small-sided” football i.e. teams of less than eleven players, such as 6-a-side, 7-a-side, or 8-a-side.

Rules of 5-a-side football

5-a-side football can be played using different rules. Usually however, a specific pitch facility or competition will have its own common rules. For instance, some pitches have touch lines for throwings and goal kicks while some others have barricades, which keep the ball in play continuously.

Notably, sliding tackles are usually not allowed in 5-a-side football. This is to protect players from the higher risk of injury from such tackles due to the smaller nature of the pitch.  

Goal.com’s explanation of 5-a-side rules might be worth reading.

Advantages of 5 aside

More and more people are taking to 5-a-side these days. Not only is a 5-a-side facility easier to set up compared to an 11-a-side facility or stadium, 5-a-side also has an argument for more physical and mental intensity than 11-a-side. Research has shown that there is more frequent ball contact and higher intensity of play in 5-a-side than 11-aside, which helps to achieve faster skill development.


5-a-side has become really popular across the world and the popularity in Nigeria is increasing rapidly. More and more 5-a-side pitches and facilities are springing up across the country, likewise the number of people getting into the game, both male and female. There are also more 5-a-side competitions springing up, both locally and internationally.