FEATURE: Walking Football hits the spot in Belper

Footballers line up for a photograph before the game.
Footballers line up for a photograph before the game.

“It’s crazy to think it took somebody this long to think it up,” said Thomas Donlon, when asked about walking football.

“It’s spreading like a rash up and down the country.

“It has now become a partner to the 11-a-side game rather than before when it was probably thought of as a smaller brother, if you like.”

Thomas, Football Development Manager at Belper Leisure Centre, has seen a steady rise in numbers at the weekly sessions since he started in the role three months ago.

The sport, which was originally devised in Derbyshire, is relatively new to the UK but has seen a surge in popularity over the past couple of years.

Now, with summer in full swing, people of all ages and all walks of life are being urged to sign up for the sessions in Belper.

Thomas told the Belper News: “We get all sorts of people from all walks of life turning up to our sessions.

“They come on a casual basis and we have a broad spectrum from 18-year-olds to more middle-aged people and seniors.

“There’s also a strong social aspect to the sessions and it integrates new people together.

“It also allows them to get active and play the game they love.

“It gives people an extra option and Sunday sessions are run early in the morning so people have the rest of the day to spend with their families.”

Throughout the county, players of all ages are taking up the sport.

One such player is Ken Baghurst, aged 64.

Ken says he would recommend the sport to anybody - regardless of their age.

He said: “I played back in the day for Duffield Old Boys but then decided to take up cycling.

“Some people think they can’t play because they’re too old and might get hurt but doing this lowers the risk by making your body more able.

“I’d recommend it to anyone.”

Thomas says the current group is around 10-15 strong although they actively welcome new members.

He added: “To anybody considering joining us, I would say get involved!

“Walking football is a great opportunity to stay active, encourages social aspects and lets you continue playing the game that you love.”

l Sessions take place every Sunday at Belper Leisure Centre, from 11am-12pm.

For more information, call 01773 825285.