It started with bowling. Then golf and table tennis got in on the act. Now football has become the latest sport to combine playing skills with a big night out.
The beautiful game’s entry into “competitive socialising” is coming to London this summer with a £10 million investment to create a new football themed entertainment venue at the 02.
Visitors to the 30,000 sq ft Greenwich destination, known as TOCA Social, will play a range of football games in booths using interactive digital technology.
Balls are fed into the booth and players have to hit still or moving targets to score points.
The games are “designed for all ages, abilities, and football interest” but the venue’s core audience is expected to be 18 to 35 year olds.
Players will be able to order cocktails and other drinks as well as food for their booth from a menu created by former Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen chef Ross Clarke. Dishes are likely to include a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich and Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl. There will also be three bars and a DJ booth.
The brand is owned by California based training business TOCA Football founded in 2014 by former Leeds United, Fulham and Derby County midfielder Eddie Lewis, who also played for the USA in two World Cups.
TOCA’s Social’s managing directorAlex Harman, said: “We’re incredibly excited to bring TOCA Social to The O2 in London at a time when friends and family are looking for new ways to enjoy time together.
“We created TOCA Social to make the nation’s favourite sport inclusive to all, especially to those who have never kicked a ball.
“TOCA Social fuses the worlds of football, food, drinks and live music to create a memorable experience that truly appeals to everyone - not just football fans.”
A number of other venues are planned around the UK.