Wednesday, 20 June 2018

The kick of walking football

The kick of walking football

POLITICIANS swapped their suits and chains of office for sports strips and trainers as they played a game of walking football.

Henley Mayor Julian Brookes and South Oxfordshire District Council chairman Paul Harrison were among those who took part in the session at Henley leisure centre on Friday evening.

The sport is the same as the traditional form of the game but players must walk instead of run and always have at least one foot on the floor.

It is designed to help older people keep fit and you don’t have to have played before.

Councillor Brookes, 67, who scored a couple of goals during the six-a-side game, said: “It was great fun but I’m not sure there was much walking! It took me two or three days to recover afterwards but I would encourage anyone to go and play.”

Councillor Harrison, from Sonning Common, said: “It was frustrating because you are so used to running and having to walk made it more difficult than actual football.

“You have to adjust your stride length to change your speed.

“I upset one of the players when I sent him to the ground and he told me it was a non-contact sport but no one had told me that. I’m used to playing in defence where there is a lot of contact.”

The weekly sessions started almost a year ago and people up to the age of 80 have taken part.

Colin Williams, community support manager for Better, which runs the leisure centre, said: “There are a lot of benefits.

“It’s good for people wanting to come back to exercise after being unwell — and it’s not just for people who have played football before.

“There are social benefits as well because it gets people out of the house, improving their socialisation by having a tea or coffee afterwards.”

Jonathan Lake, 49, from Rotherfield Greys, has been taking part in the sessions for about nine months. He said: “I love the exercise and you get to meet people as well. It’s great fun and we burn a few calories.

“I played football at school and some club football in my early twenties but only played cricket after that.

“One of my friends introduced me to this and I’ve been doing it ever since. Sometimes we end up at the pub afterwards as well.”

l Walking football takes place at Henley leisure centre on Fridays from 7.20pm to 8.20pm and costs £3. For more information, call (01491) 577909.

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