What does a football ball boy do?

In football, a football boy or girl is responsible for retrieving footballs that go out of play during a game. They are stationed near the edge of the field, ready to return the football to the players. Although their role is not deemed crucial, it is an important aspect of ensuring the maintenance of a fast-paced game by reducing downtime.

High profile football matches employ the assistance of a ball boy during a tournament. As part of their role, they must have a spare football in their hands at all times so that if a ball leaves the field, the ball boy can immediately provide the players with a new football to continue the game and minimise any wasted time. This process helps reduce the possibility of delays caused by balls going out of play.

Skills needed to become a football ball boy

To be in with a chance of being lucky enough to take on the role of a ball boy, you must have the required skills to carry out the role efficiently. As well as physical fitness skills, you must have a good knowledge of the rules of football. To perform your duties well, you need to understand what the job requires and how your actions enhance and relate to the game.

Necessary skills include:

Speed: A ball boy needs to pass an evaluation of their physical abilities. They need to be able to run fast and carry out their role as quickly as possible to reduce downtime in play.

Agility: Similar to the players, a ball boy needs to be agile and be able to change position and respond swiftly. It requires the integration of balance, coordination, speed, strength and endurance to react quickly and carry out their role.

Attentiveness: A ball boy must have strong attention skills to enable them to remain aware throughout the game and prevent any mistakes in downtime. Strong observation skills are essential to stay informed about what is happening in the football game and where the ball is so that you can be ready to carry out your role at any time.

Responsibility: A ball boy is responsible for ensuring there is minimum downtime throughout the game. They need to take ownership of their role and use their initiative to react quickly.

Eligibility to become a football ball boy

Eligibility to become a football boy varies from club to club. Many select youngsters from local youth football clubs. For example, Arsenal invite members of their Junior Gunners club for pre-selection trials, while other clubs invite young players to apply via their website. Generally, football boys must be between the ages of 11 – 16. They must be available to attend every home game, be energetic and be able to quickly respond to footballs out of play. 

 (2)“…watching the game week in and week out, that was my fuel to get me where I wanted to be later on down the line..” – Callum McGregor, Ballboy to Celtic Captain.

Steps to become a football ball boy

Become an expert on the game

It is important for a football boy to understand the rules of the game and how your role impacts the game. When the football boy understands the rules, it is easier for them to read the game and determine when the football will potentially go out of play.

Acquire the necessary skills for the role

Football boys are responsible for retrieving balls that go out of play and delivering it to the server. To carry out this role effectively, it is important that they have a good level of physical fitness and the necessary skills for the role. They need to be agile, observant and decisive to return footballs in the minimum time, without being any nuisance to the players. Prospective football boys must pass an evaluation of their fitness, endurance and their ability to concentrate to qualify for the role.

Research the team or tournament you want to be a football boy for

It is important to do your research on the team you want to be a football boy for. Each team has a different application process, depending on the type of tournament that is being played. Big leagues, including the Champions League or the English Premier League choose football boys based on youth clubs, supporter clubs, in schools or through an online application process. Once you have been selected, you will then have to undergo a selection process and a series of tests before you secure the role. These tests will evaluate your physical fitness and your understanding of the game, which will determine your suitability to the role.

Salary of a football boy

The highest average  salary of a football boy(2) in the UK is £36 – £50 per hour, while the lowest salary of a football boy is £25 – £30 per hour. The salary received depends on the team they are working for and the level of importance of the tournament.

Other FAQs

How old do you have to be to become a ball boy?

Football boys are commonly school children and are between the ages of 11 – 16.

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