This review is sponsored by CeleBreak!
During the summer of 2023, I went to Barcelona. Not only was I a tourist but I also played football with the locals. I love travelling and all the purities and details of it. However, when I travel to a football nation (countries who are big on ⚽️), I always bring my cleats so I can play with the locals
(and get destroyed). So when I got there, I didn’t know where to go, how to find games, how would it even work? That’s when I found out about the awesome CeleBreak app/team that excellently organizes local football matches for everyone! This entire article is a comprehensive review about the matches I’ve experienced with them and it’s perfect for you if you want to play football in one of these major European cities.
Table of Contents
- App review
- Gameplay review / actual experience
- Wrap Up
I really appreciate their UI both as a user/football participant and also as a professional in the tech sector. Just scroll up to the screenshot and scan it for 10 seconds or less: all the information you’d ever want and need are in the screen already. You don’t even have to scroll down yet!
Imagine you’re new to the area and you find that this location is available/near you. It’s so easy to find all the basic information:
- where is it? (picture and address is there)
- what’s the quality of the pitch? (photo’s there, and you can see it’s “artificial grass”)
- how do I get there? (tells you if it’s bus/scooter accessible plus easy load on the map)
- what type of game am I playing? (8v8, mixed mens and womens)
The only tough part about it is since it’s an app, I was hesitant at first to install it (hello people who are like me; who takes data privacy a bit more seriously). It took me longer to get to the good stuff and I could’ve just as easily ignored the entire thing. After a while I figured I’d give it a shot and installed it anyways and I wasn’t disappointed.
The app doesn’t collect a lot of information too; really just the information necessary to contact you just in case and enough to get you to proper games.
There are a lot of other cool features too. For example you can see who the participants are. If you have any specific questions, you can message the match organizer directly and ask them. Lastly, you can either find games by searching a filter in a given city (e.g.: I want the app to “show me 11v11 games, women’s only. It doesn’t matter where they are in the city.”. At the same time you can search via locations too (see “fields” button at the bottom of the screenshot) if location or distance is the main concern.
You can see it in the screenshot too (it’s disabled at the bottom because it’s full/on waitlist) but you can pay directly through the app. No more having to worry about how much to withdraw on local cash and figuring who to pay and when!
We’re not going to review the app much since that’s done already and better shown in the app store. Besides, I’m more excited to discuss how the games itself are played!
Gameplay review / actual experience
So when I was in Barcelona, I went to Parc Guëll and Barceloneta. I would’ve played more if I had more vacation days! These are the regular weekly games they have by the way. CeleBreak also offer special/private/corporate events and even competitions. This review is just about the regular scheduled games.
For both locations, they’re definitely accessible and kudos to whoever’s writing the instructions on these things because it’s very useful and informative. When you click on the address of the game location, it shows you instructions on how to actually get to the field. They take into consideration closures or “if this entrance is closed, use this instead”. If the field itself is deep/far from an area entrance, it tells you where to go/turn, after coming in the entrance.
They’re public transit (also bikes and scooters) accessible and both times I got there easily. Keep in mind that I’m a 🇨🇦 tourist in Barcelona so I don’t know these places at all. So if I can easily figure it out, I’m sure anyone else can.
I would suggest getting there earlier if you’re doing public transit. I almost got late when I went to Parc Guëll only because of the public transit 😂 The bus came in late at the stop and then 75% of the way, the bus did a detour. They probably announced it in the bus but I’m not fluent in Spanish. I only knew football Spanish: “izquierda, derecho/a, centro, bola, tranquilo, pasar” 😅. I also lucked out on that “if this entry is closed, use the other one”.
On both places I played, they were artificial turf which I would’ve preferred anyways. Either the pitches were new or properly maintained. I’ve played in shitty/old turfs where there’s barely any of the black artificial dirt and you can feel the hard surface underneath it. It’s also not too much of it where you start feeling bumps on parts of the pitch.
I went with my girlfriend (not just to Barcelona, but she also went to the actual games). This goes to show that it’s good too if you have someone who just wants to watch. I’ve been to places where it’s really just the pitch and then fence and there aren’t even any seats so it’s not spectator-friendly.
Both locations have proper bleachers where they can easily/safely watch. At the same time, if the app says there’s a bar or food area or sorts in the area, there actually is and it’s a decent one. When we were in Barceloneta, my girlfriend was able to just roam around (both inside the facility, and just outside it). There’s a cafe/bar by the entrance so she gets to entertain herself and at the same time if you want some snacks/drinks after your game, that’s perfect too. Parc Guëll has no bar.
The shower facilities in Barceloneta was perfect (Parc Guëll had too). Bring your own towel/toiletries though. I was able to play and bake under the hot Barcelona summer noon sun but I got to cool down after. Also, I needed the shower because immediately after my game, we wanted to continue being tourist. I didn’t want to either go touring around sweaty or have to go back to our AirBnb (which wasn’t close) just to shower.
Pro tip for tourists: both Barceloneta and Parc Guëll are actually located very close to tourist areas. It’s easy to plan your game and your tourism in one go.
It’s impressive that CeleBreak has so many game options in their app/site. You can find 5v5, 6v6, 8v8, 11v11 and any other combinations. You can find mens only, womens only, or mixed gender. You can find outdoor games and indoors too. I think it’s mostly outdoors since it’s Barcelona.
And then of course you can find different combinations of those varieties.
As mentioned there’s a new “beginner” category too where it’s a perfect entry point for beginners.
I find there’s soooo much games. I think if you look at their calendar it’s almost everyday, with different combinations of morning, noon, or night games. I’m sure so many people will appreciate this since there are some people who are morning people.
I know I had my Barceloneta game start at 10 or 11am. I’m from Philippines so I know how piercing summertime noon sun rays are. I wanted a game late enough that I can get some sleep but early enough that it beats the baking sun.
It’s really impressive to have so much variety and offerings because this shows how much demand there is to sustain those varieties.
Generally, I think their locations for games are safe. Of course if you want something precise (since this can be a serious concern), I can only speak for Barceloneta and Parc Guëll.
As a spectator
It’s safe to get there, it’s safe to just spectate, and it’s safe even directly if you’re playing. Don’t worry, I have a separate section for “people” below so I’ll talk about the organizer and the players.
Let’s put it this way: I felt safe enough to bring my girlfriend to the places and she felt safe just spectating. No creeps or anyone trying to pickpocket her. I’ve been to places where I wasn’t sure so I just told my gf to not go. I didn’t want to half-worry about her while trying to play a game.
The general area outside the locations are also safe. When you exit the field in Barceloneta, it’s mostly office buildings. Cross a couple more blocks and then you’re at the beach/touristy areas. Parc Guëll feels like a bit farther than where you’d usually go. Keep in mind that my game in Parc Guëll was night time too. Just in front of Parc Guëll is the bus stop that’ll get you back to the main city so you don’t really have to wait somewhere sketchy just to get home. My girlfriend and I actually decided to walk a bit longer so we can get to the metro instead that’ll get us faster home. We had to walk through some residential areas and we didn’t feel threatened or in danger at all.
I always joke to my girlfriend that the most “dangerous” thing I experienced on that way home was us walking in the dark, going downhill, and then accidentally stepping and slipping on dog poop 😂.
As a player
The actual field and facility’s good too. It’s not like there are any bald patches or you’d trip on a fold and roll your ankle. Again, the facilities, 10/10.
Alright, we’re at the main squeeze, the meat and potatoes, the thing that makes the entire experience awesome! Everyone that I had to deal with from start to finish has been amazing and they gave me the best experience so far. Let me break it down into two: reviewing the organizers and the players.
Everyone was helpful and very informative before, during, and after the game! Before the game, they will actually message you through the app for some last-minute details (e.g.: how to get there, things to know, rsvp on time) which I really appreciated. I had some questions and I messaged them and they’re very prompt and accommodating.
At the location
During the game the match organizer on site are very friendly and helpful. If you get there, you’ll get the chance to chat them up. They’ll happily welcome you and share information about the game or things in general.
I appreciate that they talk about the rules before games. I think that’s a big deal since they seem to constantly have players from different regions, different countries so it’s practical to break them down every time. People will have different rules and regs from their home cities.
Participative and invested
Another thing I appreciate (in Spain in general because I experienced this in Valencia) is that the organizers are also the hypeman or motivators. They’re not just there check you in and then just stand in the corner until your game finishes. They’re actually involved and invested in the games running! They’re not referee-ing to be clear. They’re on the side of the pitches and watching and cheering up the game! For example, if he’s watching your match and he sees an epic pass/shot, he’d actually shout “oooooohhhh, great pass/shot!”. If you guys are down and the game resets, they’d say something like “alright X team, keep it tight. It’s just one goal, vamooos!”.
We don’t have that in Toronto lol.
Another one worth noting is that they constantly try to keep it fun and interesting in a such way that if they notice that the game is being lopsided, they will actually shuffle up players to keep it balanced. This happened to my game and I got sent to the other team 😂 Either I was so good or it’s the exact opposite. And I know I wasn’t the star of show so…lol.
In the end of the game, they’d check up on you and make sure you had a great time and you have everything that you need.
Participants / players
The people I played with were a blast! That goes for both places: Barceloneta and Parc Guëll.
Level of play
As a North American playing in Europe, specifically one of the Meccas of the football world, I expected to get spanked around. Boy, spanked around is exactly what I got 😂. In a good, challenging way of course. Not like I was totally useless haha.
The level off play I’d say is “European intermediate”. It’s high level in a sense where your first touch and passes should be on point. Maybe you can do some flashy things if you want/can, but your fundamentals have to be on point or else you risk your teammates not passing the ball to you anymore.
When I was in Barceloneta, I was chatting up a few guys before the start and found out they’re from Brazil. I think they’re doing what I was doing: travelling and playing when you can. And omg these guys mopped the floor with everyone lol. But they were being fun and competitive about it. This was the game where they re-balanced it they sent me to this stronger team lol.
When I was in Parc Guëll, there were two guys from France and they were good. I love how other people are doing the same thing I’m doing: travelling and playing. These guys never stopped running from start to end. Our opponent was pretty solid too so I needed maximum focus so that all my passes, first touches, etc are on point. Every time you get the ball, you barely have max 2 seconds to do something with it (as how competitive games are normally). As the ball’s coming to you, best bet there’s a defender (who’s going to challenge you, not just jockey you) immediately behind that.
If you’re a beginner
The good news for beginners/enthusiasts though is just I just checked the CeleBreak app just recently (yup, I still have it and check it) and you know how they have a label/tag if it’s a “Mens, womens, or mixed gender” game? I just saw that they now have games (and a tag in the app) that’s classified as “beginner”!
Communication and physicality
Even with the other people I was playing with in Barceloneta, everyone was being smart about it. I’ve had some shitty games years ago where you’re playing with some individuals and they’re just non-stop chirping and raging that they’re no fun to play with and the game’s just infuriating. There were none of these in my CeleBreak games.
They do a healthy amount of talk for sure. Like they’ll call you out if you do a shitty pass/decision but not like excessive shit talking from start to finish. It’s normal in competitive sports. I’m not being a snowflake about it but hey I’m being a tourist so of course I’m just looking for a great time and non of these bad vibes right?
There were no risky plays too, like dicey tackles or 50/50 challenges that’s going to take out your ankles and knees. I didn’t experience any risky challenges or unnecessary fights or anything. You get a very good amount of physicality and challenges for sure that’ll make you sweat and make you give your all, but nothing excessive that you’ll get to smacking or fist fights.
Types of people that play
As mentioned, I like and appreciate that there were players from different countries as well, like the French and Brazilians I mentioned above.
I like that it’s so diverse. There were locals that play in varying ages. There were people playing that’s probably fresh grad I’d guess but there are also older adults like this guy I was chatting in Barceloneta after a game. He was this older gentleman from Germany or some German-speaking country and I think he lives there now. So he’s a regular in CeleBreak but he plays in different fields. I think it’s a good sign because he’s a repeat customer having a good time and it’s not like people are being agist about it right.
There are people who play back to back games (really good or athletic) and there are people I’ve played where they’re either beginners or just casual players every now and then.
I didn’t get to play mixed gender or beginners so I don’t know how it is but if it’s the same experience I had in Valencia from a different provider, it’s fun to play mixed gender (that’s what I normally play here in Canada) because the level of play you get from women are the same as what you’d expect from men. No one’s being sexist about it.
If you’re looking for football games, especially in these major European cities, you know what to do. You know what to get.
CeleBreak has a lot of offerings in terms of different locations, different game sizes, and different player mixes. It checks all of the box I was looking for when I was looking for a local game in Barcelona. It was so good that I played twice! I’d play more if my vacation was longer. I truly had a great time and I’m definitely suggest and recommend it to my friends.
I have an article as well if you want to know more on how to find local games while travelling.