If you think your days of enjoying the beautiful game are over once you reach a certain age, then think again.
The relatively recent phenomenon of “walking football” seems to be going from strength to strength – and in Fleetwood they’re leading the way.
Fleetwood Town Flyers Walking Football Club encourages people over the age of 50 years to meet together, socialise and enjoy the great sport of football.
From a starting point of just a few people having a kickabout two years ago, the club now boats 25 players and they have played tournaments at Manchester City’s Etihad complex and Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park.
That would have been unthinkable back in 2014 when the scheme was part of Fleetwood Town FC’s Community Trust but Jason Sharp, who runs the sessions in Fleetwood and Thornton, says the phenomenon is on the up.
Jason said: “The Flyers started off as a few people kicking a ball around, a couple of years ago, but now they’ve even set up their own committee and we have two teams.
“It’s really catching on and it’s a fun way to keep fit without over-doing it.
“It has considerable health benefits, like reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and helps improve blood pressure and increase core stability.
“These sessions have a positive impact socially, physically and mentally to those of a certain age.
“We entered a few tournaments last year and will be taking part in more this year.
“Most professional football clubs have a walking football set-up now, so there’s plenty of scope to get around.
“We’re partnered by Age UK Lancashire and they’ve promoted quite a few of our activities.”
One of the players is Derek Widdup, 72 year old with two knee replacements under his belt, who now manages to participate and play with men 20 years his junior.
Derek, who lives Stalmine, Over Wyre, said: “Over the past several years I have had numerous health problems but since getting involved in walking football I have overcome 90 per cent of those problems, and have a laugh at the same time.”
Another member, 51 year old former Fleetwood man George Greenall, who now lives in Thornton, said: “It’s giving me a new lease of life because I had to quit football when I was younger, through back problems.
“Even though it’s slower we do get quite competitive in the tournaments.”
The sessions take place at the Fuse Football Pitches, Thornton on Wednesday afternoons at 12.30pm-2pm and at The MUGA (Multi-Use Games Area) pitch, Milton Street, Fleetwood at 1.30pm-2.30pm on Monday afternoons.
Anyone wanting to take part or find out more about the walking football club can contact Jason Sharp, FTFC Community Sports Development Officer on 07834581414 or Email.Jason.sharp@Fleetwoodtownfc.com