Meet the footballers who love a walk in the park
Players from Wigan Walkers FC recently enjoyed the chance of a lifetime at the training base of the England national team.
The walking footballers represented Wigan Athletic in a national tournament and reached the finals of The Football League Trust Trophy held at St George’s Park, Burton-on-Trent.
And now the players are preparing for a tournament on home turf.
On Thursday November 3, there will be an over 50s tournament at the home base, the Wigan Soccerdome.
Teams from across the region will be competing with representatives from Fleetwood, Blackpool, Manchester City and Everton among those taking part.
Then on November 17 there will be an over 60s tournament at the same venue.
Walking Football is a rapidly growing sport for the over 50s.
There are currently more than 700 clubs throughout the UK and this is growing week by week. The sport itself is basically the same as football with the exceptions of no running, no slide tackling and no balls above head height.
Wigan Walkers FC are located at the Soccerdome next to the DW Stadium. There are currently around 30 members and sessions are held Monday and Wednesday mornings.
As well as the matches themselves, there is a social get together, both before and after having played. The club is a great asset to the local community and the clubs committee are continually striving to move things forward.
Wigan Walkers FC have been successful in numerous tournaments around the country, entering teams for both the over 50s and over 60s, and there have been players who are actually in their 70s taking part.
New members are always made welcome.
Organised soccer sessions have many lifestyle and health benefits
New walking football sessions are available for people of all ages looking for a low impact activity to help them get healthy.
The weekly sessions run by Inspiring healthy lifestyles take place at the Powerleague Soccer dome, Stadium Way on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11.30am to 12.30pm with similar sessions taking place at Westleigh High School on Tuesdays from 8.15pm to 9.15pm.
Based on association football, a key couple of changes to the rules mean a player can concede a free kick to the other side if they run during the game.
This restriction, together with a ban on slide tackles, is aimed both at avoiding injuries whilst promoting cardiovascular fitness with the least stress on the body.
Coun Chris Ready, cabinet member for communities, said: “I have been pleasantly surprised by walking football.
“During my visit, there were around 50 enthusiastic mature men participating in the sport and all have a story to tell about how its keeping them fit and giving them a purpose in life.
“Getting individuals out of the house meeting new friends and generally keeping them well in body and soul ticks all our boxes for Borough on the Move and we are hoping more members from all corners of society will join in the sport.”
Pete Burt, managing director of Inspiring healthy lifestyles, added: “People of all ages can come along to play walking football, though it is predominately aimed at men aged 50-plus who enjoy the game and want to keep active.
“We’ve got a really good group over at Leigh and hope to see the same success in Wigan over the coming months.”
If you have an idea to get people moving in the borough, from arts classes to gentle exercise, you can apply for funding from Wigan Council’s Borough on the Move fund, part of the Deal for Communities Investment Fund. Find out more at www.wigan.gov.uk/communitydeal