Walking football is a runaway success!
A Walking Football club from Hexham has gone from strength to strength and is now putting on extra sessions to meet demand.
A team from the club is also for planning its first tour to Spain to compete in a walking football tournament in Majorca this week.
Walking Football is a slow-paced version of the game developed to inspire men over 50 to get more exercise and counter social isolation.
Now thousands of older men – and some women – are rediscovering the joys of football, which is helping them to stay physically and mentally active.
The Hexham group meets every Friday at Active Northumberland’s Wentworth Leisure Centre to train and play the game.
There is also a session for beginners and returners each Thursday. This is aimed at anyone who has never played, who wants a slower pace than the Friday game or who has an injury or health condition.
The Wentworth groups also promote men’s health and mental health awareness, working with national organisations such as Prostate Cancer UK and, more locally, GP surgeries.
It also attracts younger players with staff members joining in when they get a chance and the mix of generations has been great fun.
Andy Cooper who attends the sessions said: “I didn’t expect to ever play competitive football again but Walking Football has been fantastic. All the old skills have come back - well nearly! As well as good exercise it’s such a good laugh and so much fun.”
Pete Palfreyman said: “ It’s great to feel the buzz of playing football again. Telling the sports shop that the footwear you are buying is for you to play and not your grandchildren was brilliant.”
Around twenty people meet up at the centre each week ranging from around 25 - 70 years of age.
Northumberland County Councillor, Cath Homer, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said:
“Walking Football is experiencing a massive surge in popularity. There are now more than 800 registered clubs in the UK - twice as many as there were a year ago.
“Most of the men have been playing at Wentworth Sports Centre for well over a year now and some have told us they are getting better cholesterol readings, balance, mobility and quite a few are losing weight so there are some great health benefits involved too. A ladies team has also started at the centre on a Thursday so I am excited to see how that progresses. "
If you would like to find out more about joining the sessions please contact Wentworth Sports & Leisure Centre on 01670 629301 or come along to the centre at on Thursday or Friday at 12.15pm. There is no need to book in advance. Sessions cost £3 and involve gentle functional exercise to improve balance, flexibility and strength, warm ups, coaching drills and games. Extra support is given for those with medical conditions.
Walking football sessions also take place at the Riverside Centre, Morpeth, Blyth Sports Centre and Newbiggin Sports & Community Centre. Please call 01670 620200 for more details.
Walking football world cup
On Saturday 16th June, Blyth Sports Centre will be hosting a Walking Football World Cup.
Teams of 6 are invited to take part and all abilities are welcome - players must be aged 14+
For more information, please contact email@example.com