As 2016 comes to an end, Dale’s Community Trust has been reflecting on the ever-popular Walking Football programme…
The group trains at Wardle Academy on a Monday evening (6pm to 7pm) and at Rochdale Leisure Centre on a Thursday morning (9am to 11am). Call Keith Hicks on 07958593121 to join.
Keith Hicks, Head of Community, said: “One of the big positives over the last few years has been the setting up of the walking football programme through funding from Sport England.
“The programme, which is aimed at those over the age of 50, has gone from strength to strength since its launch.
“It has been a pleasure to work with this group and I have been humbled by their commitment to represent the club in a positive fashion.”
71-year-old Steve Colesby, a Walking Football regular, tells his story…
It is difficult, in a few words, to describe how much life has improved for me and many of my friends due to Walking Football.
I saw a clip on BBC TV regarding Walking Football, some two and a half years ago, and within minutes I had arranged my first session with Paul Gardner of Link4Life, who had developed the programme in Rochdale in association with Rochdale AFC and other organisations including the Stroke Association.
Soon our club was representing our town in local and national competitions, and after discussions with Keith Hicks, we adopted the club name of Rochdale AFC Strollers (if you wish, you can search our name in ‘facebook’ to see all details of our activities).
We have entered many tournaments over the last couple of years and managed to win a few, including a recent one at Wigan and a few months ago at the wonderful Macron Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers.
We have also had some success in the FA People's Cup, reaching the finals in 2015, and have also taken part in the Football League national competitions for the last two years.
Again, due to our close relationship with Rochdale AFC we have had the privilege of playing demonstration games at half-time, on the pitch, at Fleetwood’s Highbury Stadium and Rochdale’s Crown Oil Arena against Bolton Wanderers in front of crowds as large as 6,000. The reception we received from the crowds was amazing!
My health and weight has improved entirely due to my involvement in Walking Football.
As well as the health benefits, I also have the pure joy of playing the beautiful game again, something I thought was lost to me many years ago. I have also made many genuine friends through Walking Football.
I will not be hanging my boots up again, any time soon!
Michael Krylyszyn, aged 63, also shared his thoughts on the programme…
Since starting to play I have gained immeasurable benefit from like-minded individuals who want to re-kindle their enthusiasm for the beautiful game, albeit at a slower pace. Having thought my playing days were over, it has given me a second chance to experience the competitive edge of football. It has also given me the opportunity to interact with new individuals and make new friends.
Not only has it enhanced my fitness regime, it has become an integral part of keeping healthy by increasing stamina, self-confidence and is definitely a stress buster.
When I joined, little did I realise I would be part of a wider football community, playing under the banner of Rochdale AFC and experiencing the thrill and prestige of playing on a match day in front of a welcoming crowd to showcase the benefits of walking football to the over 50s.
A special mention should go to Keith Hicks and his team of community coaches who have supported and encouraged us on our journey, and also Paul Gardner from Link4Life who has arranged for us to compete at National and local tournaments. He has also given us the belief that it doesn't matter how good you are as long as you are willing to try!