Walking footballers in Fleetwood who are enjoying the health benefits of being back on the pitch have called for more men over the age of 50 to get involved and get in shape.
The sport of Walking Football – which is aimed at keeping players fit, active and re-engaged with physical and social activity – has grown rapidly over the last five years.
There are now more than 600 active clubs around the UK and Fleetwood’s club is really flying.
The Fleetwood Flyers, part of the community arm of Fleetwood Town FC, has seen its membership grow and the group is now based at the League One club’s impressive new £8m training base at Poolfoot Farm, Thornton.
As well as being a way for the over 50s to stay in shape, Walking Football is an all-inclusive social event. Research published by The Mental Health Foundation says developing friendships was key to preventing many mental health problems.
Matt Hilton, Fleetwood Town’s director of community development and education, said: “Walking football is an excellent way for men over 50 to get back involved in football or even play the game for the first time.
“We have a core of 18 men aged 50 and over who attend sessions at Milton Street Astro, in Fleetwood and at Poolfoot Farm. Not only do the guys love playing, but new friendships are formed and the health benefits are there for all to see.”
Research from the Fleetwood sessions show that 75 per cent of those who take part feel healthier and have lost weight; one individual reported he had lost 18lbs in weight since the programme had started; 100 per cent responded that they better understanding of mental health and the threats to maintaining good mental health.
Kevin Clarkson, one of the team members, said: “ There is skill involved and pass and move is the key. People who come down really enjoy it, they are playing football again and the health benefits are tremendous.”
Fleetwood Flyers have three sessions a week: at Poolfoot Farm on Wednesdays at 12.30pm and again on Fridays between 5pm and 6pm. They also have a session every Monday at Milton Street Community Facility in Fleetwood at 1.30pm.
For more information visit the website www.fleetwoodwalkingfooty.co.uk