TEN new Walking Football Centres are to be created in Suffolk.
Suffolk County Council’s Most Active County Partnership has teamed-up with Suffolk FA to establish the centres across the county.
Funding is being provided for equipment or venue hire to help get new centres up and running in areas of low provision. There are already around 25 Walking Football Centres in Suffolk.
Cllr Andrew Reid, who visited the Walking Football session at Whitton Sports Centre in Ipswich, said: “Suffolk County Council is pleased to be working with Suffolk FA to establish 10 new walking football groups across Suffolk as part of Suffolk’s ambition to become the most active county in England.
“Increasing physical activity levels as part of a healthy lifestyle has significant benefits for health and wellbeing and, because walking football is such an accessible way of supporting people back into exercise, I’m sure these new groups will have a really positive impact on all those who take part.”
Suffolk FA Inclusive football Development Officer Kirsty Smith said: “A huge thank to Suffolk County Council for providing this funding, which will enable us to create 10 new Walking Football Centres across the county.
“It’s very important for us as a County FA to be part of The Most Active Partnership and one which we hope continues for many more years to come.
“The pandemic has hit society hard over the past two years, however the impact on the over-50s has been significant – which is something we want to tackle head on.
“Therefore, by creating these 10 new centres around the county, we will be able to help reduce social isolation, provide opportunities for people to do some physical exercise, socialise with friends – all having a positive impact on peoples mental health.”
Alan Franklin, who is 70 and co-organiser and treasurer, of the sessions at Whitton Sports Centre said that he had been playing since seeing the Barclays advert for Walking Football on television around seven years ago.
He said that attendances at Whitton Sports Centre were typically around 18 players each week.
“When players first come along you can see they don’t have the touch or the fitness levels, but it soon comes back,” he said.
Sixty-seven-year-old Glen Parker, who has been playing for four years, said: “We have got a great bunch of guys here who are really social.
“Once a month we do a walk around one of the local villages which includes a pub lunch.
“Before Covid came along we were able to get together afterwards and have a social cuppa indoors which some of the guys really appreciate as it gave them the opportunity to have a really good chat.”
Cllr Andrew Reid (centre) is pictured with players who attend the Walking Football sessions at Whitton Sports Centre in Ipswich.
To find out where there is a Walking Football Centre near you and contact details please click here