Belper Leisure Centre to host walking football for women

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Belper Leisure Centre is to host its first walking football session for women next month in the hope it will become a regular fixture.

The leisure centre is teaming up with the Derbyshire Football Association for the event on Sunday, November 12, 1-2pm.

Mike Gilmore, who joined the centre’s staff as football development officer this summer, said: “We’re really keen to push the women’s side of the game. Having seen the success of men’s walking football, we thought we’d give this a go.

“In Belper we already have good representation at junior and adult levels with Belper Town Ladies and Belper Sports Ladies - so we thought there may be an opening for the walking game too.”

Walking football is played the same way as the regular game, just at a much slower pace.

Mike, 22, said: “Typically walking football is aimed at the over-50s, but we’re inviting all women over the age of 16 to come and try it.”

The men’s game has skyrocketed in recent years, with old players relishing the opportunity to take part in the sport again.

Mike said: “There are two big aspects. The first is social: it gets people out and involved and meeting each other. Players love the football festivals where teams come from all over and there’s opportunity to socialise afterwards.

“Then there are the health benefits. It keeps people active, and there aren’t too many sports where older players won’t suffer negative effects.”

He added: “I know of one woman who plays with a pedometer, and she can do up to 3,000 steps in an hour - the recommend daily distance is 7-10,000. It has massive health benefits.”

Women’s groups have sprung up in Derby, and Derbyshire FA are now looking to develop others across the county in the hope they can mirror men’s football festivals.

Spokesman Angie Harper said: “It’s fantastic to see the game taking off, especially to see another women’s only one setting up.”

The first game will take place in the leisure centre sports hall, free of charge. If it takes off, there will be a £2 fee for following weeks.

Mike said: “If people are willing to commit to a regular slot, we’ll definitely do it.

“It doesn’t matter if you don’t have much football experience already. I’ll introduce the rules and get you playing straight away.”

For more information, or to book a place at the session contact michael.gilmore@belperleisurecentre.co.uk.