Rugby gets the walking football bug

Get back to the beautiful game. The author was on the orange team but with a pink face by this time.  NNL-161017-112134001
Get back to the beautiful game. The author was on the orange team but with a pink face by this time. NNL-161017-112134001
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Probably like many other people, my first encounter with walking football came about through a Barclays advert on the telly.

I’ve no idea now how a group of veteran footballers having a great time on an artificial pitch helped promote a high street bank but the image certainly stuck with me.

So when the call came to the Advertiser to drop in on one of the sessions now taking place in Rugby, I looked in the mirror, checked the birth certificate and knew I was now the target market.

Until about three years ago I was still part of a regular kickabout on a Sunday afternoon. But the fitness bug had escaped me since then so it was with some trepidation I headed for Rugby Town JFC in Kilsby Lane for what proved to be three matches in an hour, with a short break between each.

If you thought anything about walking football dulled the competitive spirit, think again, for this had all the enthusiasm of football at any age, with good-natured banter and some fairly enthusiastic walking at times.

One of my 11 colleagues pictured above, Terry McGee, from Crick, said: “This is a great way of keeping fit and if you’ve ever played a bit of football before it does come back to you.”

Another, Robin Richter, said: “I started because I love the beautiful game and this was a way for me to start playing again.

“My decision to start was the best I have made for a very long time. I have met guys of a similar age whose company I enjoy and with whom I have a lot in common.”

The sessions are run by Darren Wheeler who looks to engage people of all ages in a variety of sports through his business Bowl4fun – Activesport4all.

He now runs walking football sessions in Daventry, Rugby, Lutterworth and Kenilworth and full details of how to get involved are available at: www.activesport4all.co.uk

He said: “The sessions are open to all, but it is ideal for the over-50s, or people looking at losing weight, wanting to get active or recovering from illness or operation.

“My best moment so far is seeing a player in their 70s scoring a goal and celebrating like they had scored the winner in the cup final - priceless.”