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Life in the UK Part 2 – what sports we play

While the differences between life in Spain and the UK are not so extreme, there is quite a lot of variation in the specific details of what we do. Bars have a different feel to them, restaurants are not quite the same, and the sports we play and what’s popular is another small variation.

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Let’s get the ball rolling

That’s a fun idiom that means let’s start, and the main topic for this UK/Spain comparison is when it’s time to play sport. There’s a strong work hard/play hard culture in the UK, where long hours and stressful jobs are balanced with long weekends of sport and socialising. Spanish life tends to have more balance, and therefore there is a less intensity when it comes to time off.

Below you’ll find some of the most popular sports that Brits play after work and on the weekends.



Normally thought of as a good-weather sport, you’ll see Brits running in basically any weather. Plenty of keen British runners could tell you of times when they ran in the snow and ice, and didn’t think too much of it.

In every city in the UK you’ll find enthusiastic and committed running clubs, and often see groups of 15 or 20 runners all chatting and smiling as they jog by. Clubs range from social to highly professional, so choose wisely!


There’s almost no padel played in the UK, and for many Brits it’s the first time seeing the sport when they arrive in Spain. Instead, Brits play squash, which is very similar to padel.

Instead of a net, it’s played against a front wall, with the surrounding three walls also used. It’s a faster paced and faster moving sport than padel, with a smaller and less bouncy ball. There’s constant direction changes, so agility and flexibility are more valuable than strength.


This is the sport of most young

boys’ (and girls’) school years, just like it is in Spain. The football culture is one of the most consistent sporting experiences from country to country, and it’s loved, adored and obsessed over in the same way.

Due to big teams having players from all over the world, many Brits are Barcelona fans and Spaniards can support Chelsea too.

Five-a-side leagues are very popularas well, giving less athletic people a chance to enjoy a miniature and faster version with a few friends.


Alongside football, rugby is a very popular sport during the school years, although it’s fairly brutal to be honest. I personally broke bones playing rugby at school, but it’s a great sport to play to learn about teamwork, commitment and bravery.

It’s relatively common for adults to continue playing on the weekend or an evening, but not as popular as football. There’s considered to be a great social scene around rugby teams too.


One of the fastest growing sports in the UK, and around the world, is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This martial art has become so popular due to two factors. It’s incredibly effective and gives great confidence in your abilities, and it’s also low impact, and doesn’t lead to injuries.

Boxing, kick-boxing and similar striking sports can do so much damage that it’s hard to live your life. BJJ is great for professionals who want a thoughtful and analytical way to practice combat sports.

You'll find hundreds of schools around the country, and some of the best international athletes train there too.


Netball is effectively the female equivalent of football in terms of its popularity, especially during school. It’s a rapid and tactical sport, similar to basketball, but with more precision passing and less moving. Unlike basketball, while holding the ball a player cannot move, so steps must be calculated and accurate when it counts.


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