Walking football takes off in Bath
It's the fastest growing sport and is terrific for getting people active again regardless of age. Could walking football be for you?
In Bath the sport is held on the AstroTurf at Odd Down Sports Ground, a lovely facility which has changing rooms and a cafe. Most of the players are over sixty. Some used to play a fair bit of football in their youth, but this version is for people of all abilities and degrees of fitness; the walking pace puts everyone on about the same level.
Because walking football is a non-contact sport it's easy for women to take part among the men. The games at Odd Down have seen some female players enjoy a match. A grant from the Odd Down Community Centre has furnished the players with a team kit, enabling them to compete in walking football tournaments under the Somerset Football Association.
One of the players, a gentleman named Dick Bateman, spoke of the enormous benefits of this activity in helping him to recuperate from a heart attack. All the matches are preceded by warming up and stretching exercises – and he found these to be a good follow-on from the exercises that the hospital had initially given him to do. The football has helped him to regain a degree of fitness, and he is never under pressure to do more than he feels able.
Steve Collins, the organiser of walking football in Bath, also puts together social activities for all the players. There are big breakfasts and curry nights as well as trips abroad.
Walking football is held on Mondays and Fridays at Odd Down Sports Ground from 10am to 11am. Anybody is welcome to come and watch one of the games to see if they would like to get involved.