Written by Phil Owtram
‘Trying to walk the ball in’ is usually associated with football teams without a clinical edge to their play, but that is exactly what participants of the over 50s club at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre have been trying to do.
Over the past few weeks coaches from the Reading FC Community Trust have been running free walking football sessions. The group consists of a mix of men and women, many of whom have never played football before, but wanted to try a new sport at a pace that suited them.
It’s easy to assume that this is a form of football without energy, intensity or even competitiveness, but you would be wrong to think that. After a warm up which included some walking shuttle runs, followed by dribbling drills and shooting practise, the participants were split into three teams to compete in some small sided games. Instantly you could see the competitive spirit within the group, with many having to hold themselves back from breaking into a run. This form of the game focuses on bringing football back to basics, with more reliance on ball control than athletic ability and provides a way into the game for those who may have thought their playing days were behind them. Player of the match Cassy Pope, 61 said she would recommend walking football to anybody because “It’s great fun, very sociable and a way of getting fit!”
The group have high ambitions too, with Tony, 71 saying: “We’re going to get into the league and take over the globe!” only for one of his team mates to reply “Is that the Globe Theatre?!” showing that the banter isn’t just confined to the Reading FC dressing room! Joking aside, the enthusiasm on show was clear for all to see and many expressed their intentions to carry on playing once the 10 week course comes to an end.
Dave Evans, Reading FC Community Trust Manager, spoke about why he was so keen to have the Trust introduce walking football as part of its offering: “Knowing that our fan base here at Reading FC is made up of at least a quarter who are in this category (over the age of 50) and with the National Health Service and other Health organisations always looking for ways to get older people active, it seemed a good way to engage this age group.” The Reading FC Community Trust will be working alongside the Berks and Bucks FA and Get Berkshire Active to deliver more sessions of walking football in the near future.
For more information on walking football or the other activities carried out by Reading FC Community Trust please email firstname.lastname@example.org