’Walking back to happiness’ could be exactly what Walking Football now offers many of those who were around when Helen Shapiro hit the top of the charts back in the early sixties.
Walking Football starts in Marlborough in two weeks time on Thursday 7 September at the Marlborough Leisure Centre between 12 and 1pm.
Walking Football is football for the over fifties. And sixties, seventies, and maybe even sprightly eighty plus year olds. Men and women, Walking Football is open to everyone over fifty.
It’s non contact but competitive and any running is treated in the the same way as a foul in normal football – a free kick to the opposition. No slide tackles or anything similar allowed, any action that could hurt or injure is off limits.
The ball must never be kicked above hip height. Different footballs are used in the indoor and the outdoor variations of the sport. When played indoors a slightly smaller ball is used (size 4 futsal) whilst outdoor games involve a traditional football. The size of the pitch can vary to suit different locations and the number of players involved.
It’s designed to facilitate the playing of sport by those who are physically disadvantaged, i.e. not as sprightly as someone in their twenties, thirties or forties. It promotes cardiovascular fitness whilst producing the least stress on the body, and helps participants maintain an active lifestyle.
Wiltshire is a prime area for Walking Football with support from the County Council (organising county-wide tournaments) and there are currently well over 400 regular players participating throughout the county from Salisbury to Swindon with many points in between. With Marlborough now becoming involved this number will undoubtedly swell.
The ethos of walking football is all about informal, fun and recreation. It runs on the basis of turn up, pay and play, so anyone can attend a local session, or any other session elsewhere.
In Marlborough it is being organised and promoted by the Marlborough Youth Football Club. “‘Youth’? – well, joining in should make anyone feel much younger!” said Keith Marshall a coach at MYFC who will be organising Marlborough’s Walking Football.
“So much is reported in the press these days of youngsters and the older generation being poles apart, here is an initiative which bridges the age gap with one common interest, that of FOOTBALL. Our players of today, we hope, will be our over 50 Walking Footballers of tomorrow.” he added.
“This is the first season our U18 players have made the transition to senior football (Marlborough Town FC), many parents and older siblings are playing locally arranged football in the region, and we are embracing a clear opportunity to provide walking football to the older generation, for those slowed by age or injury. All these initiatives unite young and old with one common interest, namely the love of football….” commented MYFC Chairman, Stuart Slater
As popularity of Walking Football catches on, there will be other sessions as well as the Thursday lunchtimes. “We’re also looking to add an evening session as well” said Keith. “Lunchtime can be difficult for those that are still working, who haven’t retired yet so we are hoping to add an evening session during the week as from October. “Where and when – not sure yet, but we’ll let everyone know in good time” he added
“It doesn’t matter what your fitness level is or indeed whether you have never played football, or the last time you played was for the Village Pub, come and join in!!!!”
Walking Football in Marlborough starts on Thursday 7 September at Marlborough Leisure Centre. Pay and play from 12 Noon until 1pm – £2 per session.
Main pic courtesy of the FA