As the football season comes to a close, older fans are being invited to play an alternative, more relaxed, version of the sport. Sessions of walking football are being held at Blackpool Sports Centre on Thursday evenings and Monday lunchtimes, aimed at gentlemen over 50.
The premise for walking football is simple. The normal rules of five-a-side football apply but with only one difference – no running.
The sessions are a fantastic way for older people to stay fit and active, as well as allowing them to socialise and have fun.
The activity, which is coordinated by Age UK Blackpool and supported by Blackpool Council, has already had a ringing endorsement from Age UK’s Blackpool President, and the town’s greatest living footballer, Jimmy Armfield CBE.
At its launch in December 2013, Mr Armfield said: “I’m President of Age UK in this area and we felt this was a fantastic idea.
“Ladies are very social animals and tend to get involved in societies and clubs and this is very good for making them feel a part of something; a part of the community.
“We men can be a little shyer and are not always brilliant at making friends but football is very popular in Blackpool and can be a great way of bringing people together.
“I hope it goes well and I hope people will give it a try.”
While the contact levels are minimal, the competitive nature is still as strong as ever and only last year a top team from Blackpool took on teams from the rest of the country at a special tournament that was supported by Lancashire FA and Blackpool Football Club Community Trust.
John Blackledge, Blackpool Council’s director responsible for leisure services, said: “Blackpool Sports Centre offers a lot of activities to help people exercise and get healthy and walking football is something a bit different.
“It’s aimed at people who are keen to do exercise and play sport but maybe want something a little bit gentler. Since launching the sessions they have proved really popular with the people who come and I’d encourage anybody who might be interested to give it a go.
“We’re keen to set out an even playing field, and if the demand is there for women’s sessions then we will look at setting them up too.”
The sessions are aimed at men aged 50 or over, costing just three pounds each.
To book a place, or to find out more, call 622812 or email firstname.lastname@example.org