Walking Football takes giant strides towards getting more players involved

More and more people in the Yeovil area are discovering the slower but no less competitive pace of walking football sessions at Bucklers Mead Leisure Centre on Tuesday nights.

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Walking football has been set up by South Somerset District Council, Bucklers Mead Leisure Centre and Somerset FA and in response to increased demand additional sessions have now been set up from 5 to 6pm on Tuesday nights.

Starting in spring this year the Yeovil team have been on a long journey to reach where they are now. This journey has taken them from a core of four players struggling to have a game to playing at half time at a Yeovil Town Ladies FC match, via BBC Radio 5 Live commentators providing commentary to one of their matches, to being sponsored by a local company and being crowned Somerset Champions, all the while with numbers increasing.

Brian Carnell, one of the regular players whose company is the team sponsor, is keen for everyone to join in, “It is great fun it’s and surprising how much exercise there is in this type of football. It does also get quite competitive, although it is in a friendly way!”

Sam Wenden-de-Lira from the Healthy Lifestyles Team at South Somerset District Council explains more about walking football. “The game is exactly the same as regular football, except no running or you’ll give away a free kick. The benefit of walking is a reduced impact on joints, making it perfect for those returning from injury, older adults or those who have had a break from activity.

“We are delighted to offer additional opportunities to play and funding from the Mars ‘Just Play’ initiative has allowed us to fund these new sessions in Yeovil. There is even more good news as we are also planning to set up new walking football sessions in Langport starting in February.”

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Sion Kitson, Football Development Officer at Somerset FA explained more about the Just Play initiative, “Just Play is an FA scheme where sessions are created for players of all abilities to simply turn up to a venue, pay and play football with no strings attached. The new sessions at Bucklers Mead are for men and women looking for an informal play opportunity, something that is a little bit different, fun and enjoyable.”

The volunteer co-ordinator and chairman of Yeovil Walking Football Club, Stuart Marples, is looking forward to some increased local competition. “With a slow but steady stream of new starters it is a pleasure to now see so many enjoying this new sport and to be able to run two sessions in Yeovil.

“We wish the new groups starting up all the best and look forward to playing them in the not too distant future. For anyone interested in joining us we always warmly welcome new players.”

Councillor Sylvia Seal, who holds the Leisure and Culture portfolio for South Somerset District Council added, “We are dedicated to offering a variety of affordable activities that are easy to access for local residents. It is encouraging to learn of the increased popularity of walking football in Yeovil. Working in partnership with Somerset F.A and Bucklers Mead Sports Centre has enabled us to offer these innovative sessions.

“I hope that residents living in and around Langport will enjoy their experience of walking football in February next year.”

For more information on walking football contact Sam Wenden-de-Lira on 01935 462346 or Sion Kitson on 01935 431716.