FIOFAFI Archive

Regular indoor football, sport and other activity for working adults in Singapore

Choosing Sides (Part 1)

Posted by rajiv on 12 April 2009

Over the years, we’ve had several methods of choosing sides for 5, 6 or 7-a-side games.

For a long time, until I first started organizing our regular sessions in December 2007, the traditional methods included:

These usually involved spending the first 10 minutes or so of each game to determine sides, and were similar to methods used when we were in school.

The most widely used hand game involved everyone standing around in a circle, and upon “Black or White” being called, everyone would put forward a hand with either the palm (white) facing up, or the back of the hand (black) facing up.   A variation of “Odd Or Even” perhaps.

This would be repeated if necessary, until there were an equal number of “whites” and “blacks” (if the total number were even) or only a difference of one between the number of “whites” and blacks” (if the total number were odd).  Any latecomer would then join the side that was a player short.

With captains, any two of the better regular players would be chosen as, or volunteer to be, captains, and would select their teams in one of two ways:

  • Taking turns to pick a player until all the players were picked.
  • Each player would take turns to hold both hands out clenched, with something small (for example, a twig or small leaf) in one hand.  One of the captains would pick a hand, without knowing which hand the object was in.  If the object was in that hand, the player was in his team, otherwise, he would be in the other captain’s team.  Once either team was filled up, the remaining players would be in the other team.
  • The remaining players would pair up, with players of roughly the same ability forming a pair, and each of the pair would choose a different word, without the captain knowing who had which word.  The captains would then take turns to pick one of each pair by calling one of the two  words.

The use of hands, concealed objects, or pairs of words all notionally resulted in random line ups.   However, it was always possible for players to end up with other players they wanted to be with, or in the side they wanted to be on.  For example, with the use of hands, if two players wanted to be on the same side, they could both stick to having the palm face up or down, leaving it to other players to switch with each repetition until even numbers were attained.

With concealed objects or pairs of words, the players being chosen could indicate to the captain choosing which one was them by non-verbal means, such as subtle facial expressions.

Captains taking turns to pick sides, while subjective, was reasonably fair, and resulted in fairly even sides.  It worked better if the captains knew the rest of the players.

The above methods required most of the players to have arrived at the venue before teams could be formed.  Although late-coming used to be commonplace, games on Sunday mornings were leisurely, so the 10 minutes or so spent choosing sides was not an issue.

When we switched to 8 to 10 pm on Monday nights in 2007, with the late finish, not wasting time became a bigger issue.

From January 2008 onwards, as more new players came in, we just divided the players present into 2 teams based on the jersey or T-shirt they happened to be wearing – lighter colours against darker colours.  As many wore red, it was sometimes red against non-reds.  Whatever worked on the night to bring about even numbers.

When we had three teams, the colours were white/light, black/dark and red/bright.

However, the same players tended to come in same colour each week, so the line ups became fairly static.  This would not have been a problem, if it hadn’t been for the fact that the sides were hardly ever even, and one side (usually the lighter tops) were losing heavily on a regular basis.

On 17 April 2008, I said in a post:

In order to reduce the risk of one-sided games, I will randomize the team selections by pre-arranging teams based on the order in which I receive confirmations (alternating). Let’s see if that works.

Pre-fixing line ups became popular, and much of the growth in our numbers took place after that.  It was an important part of the progression to short, sharp sessions, in which we didn’t waste any time.

I continued to base line ups on the order in which confirmations were received up to the end of the week of 6 October 2008.  However, the issue of unbalanced sides continued to arise from time to time.

6 Responses to “Choosing Sides (Part 1)”

  1. […] Choosing Sides (Part 1) […]

  2. rajiv said

    While looking into “hand games”, i was trying to think of analogous games, and the local names for them.

    “Scissors, paper, stone” was one. In the west, it appears to be called “rock, paper, scissors”. It’s also called “lom chiam pas” in Singapore. Anyone have any idea as to its derivation?

    I’m struggling to remember what “oh bia som” is. If it doesn’t show up on a Google search, does it exist anymore?

    “Scissors, paper, stone” is called “jan-ken-pon” in Japan. Perhaps this adult version of the game might explain why. DEFINITELY NOT WORK SAFE.

    I did a search on “scissor paper stone singapore” on Google and followed a link in one of the search results.

    If you have children, you should be worried!

  3. rajiv said

    Another method of choosing sides could be based on the club each player supports.

    If Tom can devise an online version of “Black and White”, that would be quite “mystical” and “magical”. 🙂

  4. […] for the game to go on, but no one can figure out how to divide the players into two teams, just do what we used to do – everyone turn up in whatever colour you happen to have, and divide the players according to […]

  5. […] Choosing Sides (Part I) […]

  6. […] from 8.50 to 10.00 pm.  The routine weekend sessions are from 4.50 to 6.00 pm.  The venues and colours for each day are settled.  If a weekday is a public holiday, the routine session may be brought […]

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