(Outbrain FC after our first victory against MEC UK.)
So, you think you can play ball?
Then the Outbrain Football Club are taking on whoever fancies a showdown on the hallow fields of our adopted home pitch, at the “Content Discovery Dome” (Coram’s Fields on Guilford Street, London).
Our story started in Q2 of 2016 when a lot of football chat was going around the office and quite a few lads, (as well as Miss Julia Verplank!), started swapping stats, teams, and strategies. Myself and Kyle Staib, in particular, struck up a friendship based on a mutual love of competition and soon plotted the masterful idea of forming an Outbrain football team.
Built on the foundation of positively integrating various individuals across departments from around the UK office, we rallied the diehards and created a force to be reckoned with on the turf. Now that we had the numbers, we could start organizing training sessions and competitive matches against our partner media agencies and publishers.
So, that’s just what we did…
Match 1 – A Lesson in Good Sportsmanship
(Outbrain FC after our first game and absolute thumping against Mindshare UK.)
After one training session at Regents park, our first game came up against an impressive Mindshare UK team. We like to look at that game as a massive learning experience and a reality check. I’ll be completely honest, we lost count of the score (purposefully) because we were defeated by a large margin.
Some positives from the game were a couple of goals scored by Leon and Tom (miserable looking chaps in the photo above), and a positive attitude, persistent even in the face of defeat. With our heads held high, we saddled up for a couple of drinks with the Mindshare crew afterward and both teams were in good spirits (literally).
Match 2 – Practice Makes… a Better Team
After our first match, we committed to training on a weekly basis whenever we could, which helped us really grow as a unit. We familiarized ourselves with each others playing styles, identified the best positions for certain individuals, and it also gave us that extra little bit of fitness that we needed.
More than anything, training was something to look forward to on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening. Anyone who joined us in training had good fun and enjoyed themselves. We even had special guest appearances from the likes of Stephanie’s son, Noah (pictured above) and big Lee Gibson, who proved a menacing defender in this session.
Short of a few key players, including Kyle Staib, our co-captain, we rallied for our next game against Hearst. It was clear how far we had come since our first outing against Mindshare as we strung slick passes together in order to produce each of our goals. Some beautiful football was played on that field, but after letting in too many soft goals, the Outbrain team came up just short, losing 6 – 4.
(The team after our narrow loss against Hearst.)
Match 3 – Hard Work and Tough Love for the Win
Deterred but still determined, we stuck it out and continued to train. We even won a few unofficial games at Regents Park against various groups using jumpers for goalposts.
Shout out to Julia for a couple of standout performances in those games!
Now it was time to step it up and grab the real win for ourselves. The pressure had started to mount and we were out of excuses. The rest of the Outbrain office did a lot to support our initiative thus far, but what we needed was some tough love. Antonia, in particular, who had always been an amazing force of positively, knew exactly how to keep it real with us, motivating the team to come back and seek victory.
Our hard work was bound to pay off as we showed up with six committed players and no subs. After going down 2 – 0 within the opening 5 minutes, we showed our steel and came back for the win at a comfortable 6 – 4. Goals from Kyle, myself, and a hat trick from a Leon Robbins lookalike proved too much for the Group M agency to stand. A man of the match performance from goalkeeper Charlie Raper, solid display from John Mann in defense, and endless running from Antoine also proved vital.
See You on the Field
With our next scheduled game as a rematch against Group M on the 24th of November, it should be a great afternoon filled with healthy competition and fun for all. Our experience on the Outbrain Football Club has been one of many great lessons, and the opportunity to bond with other Outbrainers, invaluable.
If you are a brand, media agency or publisher looking to take us on in a tournament, be sure to contact me and we’ll add you to the bracket.