The end of the school year usually also means the beginning of new seasons for sports leagues in Shanghai. It's not too late to join, and with the mass exodus of expats, most leagues are very open to new members. Whether you're looking for a semi-serious, semi-professional league or just an opportunity to get some exercise in and meet some new people, Shanghai has a sport for you.
Here's the "big list" of what's out there, broken down by sport, with contact information to get you started.
What is it: ASAS Archery Battle -- didn't know it was a thing did you? -- has a fairly small but really dedicated Archery Battle community, which meets every weekend for... archery battles. It's like a sport from a long, long time ago or really far, far in the future.
How often do they play: Depends on the availability of pitches and teams, but usually, it's every Saturday.
How to join: Teams are semi-organized (with appropriately silly names), but there's almost always space for a new player to either join casually or regularly. They usually organize via a WeChat group.
How do I find out more: Contact WeChat ID: "ASAS-Sports" or 173-2141-9572.
Shanghai Badminton Club
What is it:Badminton. It's a big thing in Shanghai. The MeetUp group has more than 1,200 members, organized around casual or intermediate players looking to get some badminton on. We wrote a full feature about them here.
How often do they play: Often! Mondays (2-3 courts), Wednesdays (1-2 courts), Thursdays (3 courts), Saturdays (2 courts), and Sundays (2 courts).
How to join: They're always open to new members at all skill levels. Hit them up on WeChat and have a look at their activities. They're involved in everything from casual matches to formal tournaments.
How do I find out more:Search out "SmashBadminton" on WeChat. Check out their MeetUp page right here.
Shanghai International Basketball League (aka SIBL)
What is it: B-ball. Hoops. Just a straight-up "ball." From the organizers behind Archery Battle and the ASAS7 football league, the SIBL has roughly 2 division levels and 30 teams with between 12 and 20 players each. Basketball: It's also a big thing in Shanghai.
How often do they play: They usually have two or three seasons every year, and every season lasts about three months.
How to join: They're cagey about releasing the contacts for individual captains, so your best bet is to fill in the individual member application form, get in touch with ASAS, the organizers, and they'll put you in touch with the different teams. Or you can register your own team by filling in the team application and sending it in.
How do I find out more: Write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out their WeChat account at "ASAS体育大联盟".
Shanghai Cricket Club
What is it:The Shanghai Cricket Club has a proud tradition dating back to (according to them) 1858 -- with some breaks in between. Pretty long breaks, actually, until about 2004. As the main organizing body for cricket in Shanghai, they've got three divisions, and some of the teams compete nationwide. So casual players right up to serious athletes are welcomed.
How often do they play: There's a game between the teams every Sunday, but the teams themselves may organize their own get-togethers. The club games happen either at SCSC or at Wellington College.
How do I find out more: They've got a pretty comprehensive website outlining most of what you need to know here, including all the teams involved in club games.
Bashers Cricket Club
What is it: Possibly the most Shanghai-iest of the cricket clubs, they host regular club events (wives, children, girlfriends, and dogs welcome) and don't take themselves too seriously. Members hail from all over the cricketing world, from Nepal to Sri Lanka to Barbados to Bangladesh. They have two teams ("Business" and "Pleasure") so you can play competitively or casually (or both).
How do I find out more: You can find them on WeChat by searching for "bashers_cc", or check their website here.
FOOTBALL (SOCCER, If You Must)
There are two major soccer leagues in Shanghai. ASAS7 in Jing'an and Shanghai Premier League (SPL) in Waigaoqiao. Both leagues have around 30 soccer teams (down from roughly 40 a few years ago) with the most well-known probably being the Shanghai Lions (shanghai-lions.com).
Some of the teams are grouped around specific communities or bars, e.g. "Borrusia Shanghai" has primarily German players and frequently meets at Zeitgeist. The best way of joining in is by visiting some of the games and directly contacting a team that you like. With many expats leaving, most teams are open to new players at this point.
ASAS7 Football League
How often do they play: They usually have two seasons every year, and every season lasts four months, depending on the number of teams per season. Games take place on Saturdays or Sunday afternoons.
How to join: One way is to fill in the individual member application form, get in touch with ASAS, and they'll put you in touch with the different teams. Or you can register your own team by filling in the team application and sending it in. There's a pretty hefty team fee to cover the cost of pitch rental and so on. Or, again, just show up at one of their games and contact a team directly.
How do I find out more: Write to them at email@example.com, and check out their WeChat account at "ASAS体育大联盟".
What is it: Gaelic football is Ireland's national sport and is played all over the world wherever Irish people can be found. The club has been in existence in Shanghai for over 20 years with club members coming from all over the world. They accept players of all abilities, from absolute beginners to experienced players who help coach less experienced players. Everyone is welcome and no previous experience is necessary.
How often do they play: Training is every Tuesday at Luwan Stadium at 8:15pm. They have regular tournaments for both guys and girls.
How to join: Show up to training on Tuesdays at Luwan. It is absolutely free. You can try out the game for a number of training sessions, and you can become a member afterward only if you are interested in continuing to play. The social side is just as important as the sports side so all sporting and fitness levels are 100% welcome! Add "GAAShanghai" on WeChat and/or follow "ShanghaiGAA" on Instagram.
Shanghai Hockey Club
What is it: These people are plenty serious about their ice hockey, with ample options for mad hat shenanigans. They've got around 200 players and they run everything from casual sessions on the ice to serious national-level games, like the annual Team World vs. Team China competition, which reportedly gets quite intense. They've got players in the club from places like Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic in international games, and the club itself is pretty multinational. (Canadians may be a bit over-represented.)
How often do they play: Fridays and Saturday nights (they can start pretty late). The games are league-level and can get pretty serious, though they avoid body-checking because people need to work on Monday. During seasons, they sometimes play as many as 6 games per week. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, they do "shinnys". (If you know, you know.)
How to join: There're two divisions, and you have to do a skate assessment before you're placed in either one. You can contact them on their website below to start the process of getting onto the ice.
How do I find out more: We haven't actually been able to get in touch with them, but their website and WeChat account "TheSHCSinBin" are both being updated frequently, so if you are serious about it, you know where to look.
There are 8 or so rugby teams in Shanghai playing touch rugby -- the more accessible version of rugby -- in various leagues. Also, Shanghai has four teams that play contact rugby 15-aside contact -- the traditional rugby, where they also play in national leagues against teams all over China.
Shanghai Rugby Football Club (SRFC)
What is it: The Shanghai Rugby Football Club (SRFC) was initially established in 1881, making it the longest-reigning rugby club in China. It is also the most revered, with their Silver Dragons long regarded as the "team to beat" from both amateur and professional rugby squads alike across China. They have three teams in total: The Silver Dragons, the Green Dragons, and the Pink Dragons (the women's team). They have weekly training sessions, seasonal games/tournaments, strength and conditioning activities, community-building socials, and tours around and outside China. They are a tight-knit but welcoming family so whether you're a hardened rugby veteran who has grown up playing all your life or you're a complete newbie who doesn't know what to do with the ball, this is the club for you.
Training sessions are generally held twice per week, taking place at Wellington College on Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings at Harrow International School on Saturdays. Practices are year-round with occasional lapses during the summer and Chinese New Year holidays. Games and tournaments are held seasonally throughout the year.
How do I find out more: Their website is shanghairugby.com and it's in the process of being updated. Feel free to drop a message through Instagram at @shanghairugbyclub for the men's team and @shanghaipinkdragonsrugby for the women's team. In addition, you can add Mark Ralph, WeChat ID: "ralphy2" for more information.
Dolphins Rugby Club
What is it: Shanghai Dolphins founded in 2015 is an all-encompassing rugby club in Shanghai with a focus on the social and community side of the sport. They play in the Shanghai Touch League which is a touch tournament in Shanghai with 7-a-side mixed-gender teams. The club men's team took part in the All China Cup (contact rugby with 15 players that is played throughout China.)
Their team ethos is to take part in everything and have fun doing so, this means for all the smaller tournaments throughout China such as the Qingdao Beach Rugby, Kunming 10s, and Beijing 10s, the Dolphins will put a team together to go off on tour as players and spectators.
Beginners are more than welcome to join, they have structured training sessions and they encourage everyone to come along to give rugby a shot.
How often do they play: The Dolphins train downtown at Luwan Stadium Tuesday from 7:15pm to 9:30pm. On Saturday, depending on numbers and demand, they also play open pick-up touch games. The league games are played throughout the year and will be publicized well in advance.
How do l find out more: You can contact the Dolphins via Instagram @Shanghai_Dolphins_Rugby or on their WeChat Official Account at "ShanghaiRugby" or by contacting Victor (WeChat: "iesunnohoi").
Shanghai Softball League
What is it: The Shanghai Softball League is made up of six teams with roughly 150 active players. It's more of a social affair than a competitive thing -- but it's softball so it can get competitive -- with after-games drinks at the bar a normal occurrence. The league is pretty open to players of all ages and skill levels, both male and female.
How often do they play: They play two seasons every year — Spring and Fall — with games every Saturday during the daytime, and a few early in the evening. Teams compete in an end-of-season tournament, the Cakey Cup.
How to join: New members can fill out an application form here, with this WeChat telling you why you should join. There's also some information on their website shanghaisoftball.com. You can also follow their WeChat by searching out "ShanghaiSoftball".
What is it: Like hockey, except played on the bottom of a pool. Flippers, snorkels, fins, gloves, sticks -- it honestly sounds pretty intense. The Shanghai Azures are the only underwater hockey team in the city (as far as we know). They apparently had the first underwater hockey tournament in China back in 2015.
How often do they play: Again, depends on what championship opportunities are around, but they've got practice every weekend in the afternoons, depending on the season and pool availability. They've got equipment available to borrow for newcomers, in case they, for whatever reason, don't have flippers, masks, snorkels, and shortened hockey sticks lying around.
How to join: They've got newbies courses which they organize seasonally. You can get in touch with them to see about signing up for one, or, if you're a seasoned UWH (as they call it in the community) player, you can let them know you're ready to throw down and flip the puck.
How do I find out more: Get in touch with them by sending an email to ShanghaiAzures@gmail.com, or by adding them on WeChat by searching for "ShanghaiAzuresUWH".
Shanghai Dragons Field Hockey
What is it: Shanghai Dragons Field Hockey team is a diverse group of hockey enthusiasts from all over the world. Shanghai Dragons welcome all levels of players and already maintains a mixed level of beginners and higher level players of expats and locals alike. Besides playing field hockey the team often meets for post-game/training drinks. They also organize regular social activities and mini-tournaments around the national holidays.
How often do they play: Mixed men's and women's training and 4 aside games are played on Tuesdays 8pm to 10pm at X2 in Xujiahui. The team also plays on Saturdays at the same location but the time is dependent on pitch availability. They are limited to playing at a five-aside Astro football pitch as all the actual hockey pitches are currently unavailable.
How to join: Join the WeChat group via Stephen Ledger: "ledger1994". There are spare sticks available for beginners or those without equipment. However, shin guards and mouth guards are recommended.
Shanghai Hash House Harriers (SHH3)
What is it: The Shanghai Hash House Harriers (H3) call themselves "a drinking club with a running problem", and any brief intro to their ceremonies and initiations, their expletive-laced songs, might make them sound like a cult. But really they are just a group of really nice people who love to run and love beer.
How often do they play: Every Sunday at 3:30 pm, typhoon or blazing heat, H3 does a walk/run in a new Shanghai location. Two "Hares" get a head start to mark the trail. At 4 pm, the Hashers -- on average a pack of 20-40 runners -- chase them down, following the Hares' chalk markings on post lamps and sidewalks for a 5-8k walk or 8-13k run. The participation fee for the run and circle is 30 RMB per person. If you'd like to have dinner together with the group, the cost is 100 RMB.
How to join: To receive weekly updates about the next run's location, you can search for "Shanghaihush" on WeChat. For any other questions, you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is it: If you like the idea of running but get bored after like five minutes, this might be for you. RunnersHai is a running club that gets out of the city and organizes non-traditional races in places like organic farms and islands. Some runners might fret over the difference between 6.95km and 7km, but RunnersHai cares more about finding cool courses.
How often do they play: Every week they hold free social runs and tailored training sessions with a certified coach, all on the beautiful West Bund, usually every Tuesday and Thursday night at 7:30 pm, and every Saturday and Sunday in the morning. They also host a number of races of different distances throughout the year.
How to join: Search for "RunnersHai" on WeChat to follow their activities. Go to the "RunnersHai" WeChat mini program to join the run.
Note: We've done the best we can to make sense of the mess of sports leagues in the city, but while there is lots of info available for some, there's precious little on others. This article, however, will stay open for edits. If your club/league isn't on here (Tennis? American football? Lacrosse?), you have our permission, nay, our blessing, to besiege our inbox with concise, useful summaries and a contact number so we can get you on this rundown. Email: email@example.com.